Increasing parental engagement

The Parent Support for Education Council, Inc. (PSFEC) recognizes the contributions of engaged parents and wants to encourage, support and celebrate all parents/families and caring adults.

In an effort to bring attention to parents/families and caring adults and the challenges they face, PSFEC has requested concerned citizens to share what they have observed.

John Mavros

John Mavros

PSFEC is pleased to share the following:

Profile in courage: Determined and triumphant engaged parents
Part 2: By John Mavros

After interviewing Moneshea Harris for the first part of this story published last week, I spoke with her husband, Javon. His account, coupled with Moneshea’s, is one of amazing tenacity and victory.

Dad intercedes and nurtures son

Javon Harris

Javon Harris

Four years ago, Javon found that his son, Davon, couldn’t read or write, so he started to teach him. He found Davon was a “trouble student” in third grade at Melrose Elementary and was easily distracted by other students. He talked to his son about the importance of school and urged him to ignore the other kids.

If the staff at Melrose told him that his child was misbehaving, Javon would have him read books and “write paragraph after paragraph” as punishment.

Just before Christmas in 2014, Javon and Moneshea got a big surprise. Melrose asked them to pick up a new bike their son had won for “Best Reader at Melrose.”

Not long after that joyous time, Javon was incarcerated. This left Moneshea to deal with Davon’s behavior at school. She sat in class several times a week for a few months whenever the school called to say he was being disruptive. She helped him calm down, to develop self-discipline, to stop going along with the crowd and to focus on his lessons in class.

Things seemed to be going well. By the time Davon passed the FCAT (now FSA) portfolios required for third grade, his father had returned home from serving six and a half months in Pinellas County Jail. Moneshea had finished two years of college and things were going well at CVS where she had worked seven years as lead pharmacy technician. During her husband’s incarceration, she was able to support her five-year-old daughter and nine-year-old stepson.

Adversity and deliverance

But the unity she cherished with her family was suddenly threatened by adversity. Moneshea was bedridden with a high-risk pregnancy, had to resign her job and failed her classes at St. Petersburg College due to absenteeism.

Javon found that while in jail his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and had been given three years to live. He had been laid off from his job due to lack of work and couldn’t pay the fines to restore his driver’s license. With no income, the couple couldn’t pay rent and ended up living intermittently with family, in their car (before they lost it) or in motels.

Agency services for shelter, rental assistance, food, clothing, etc. was not available to couples with families, but they would not split up. Despite being homeless, they saw that Davon went to school regularly and continued to do well.

By providence, Debbie Fisher, a case manager for Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, came to their aid. She issued vouchers for transportation, food, shelter and clothes to wear on job interviews. She urged him to be patient and persistent.

He lost his mother to breast cancer last August, but with faith in God and each other, Javon and Moneshea have persevered. They’ve rented a new apartment near Melrose Elementary; she works fulltime and he’s interviewing for jobs, preferably as a video technician. While praying for employment, he decided to enroll back at Hillsborough Community College.

Moneshea Harris

Moneshea Harris

An active member of Greater Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church, Moneshea hopes to get back into SPC soon. Meanwhile, their two-year-old daughter has a four-year scholarship to McCabe United Methodist Church, and after receiving the Junior Turnaround Student of the Year Award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Petersburg last year, Davon is now is a straight “A” student in middle school.

The couple wishes to give special thanks to Pastor Martin Rainey and Debbie Fisher for giving them special encouragement and inspiration to be tenacious and victorious.

Pastor Rainey

Pastor Rainey

Pastor Rainey is the former pastor of Faith Memorial MB Church, and currently serves as pastor of Community Outreach.  He serves as president of the Parent Support For Education Council, Inc. and Chairman (former), JWB South County Community Council, Co-Chair Council, Inc., and Chairman, JWB South County Community Council, Circuit 6 Faith & Community Network Steering Committee.
PSFEC meets every third Thursday of each month @ 6:30 p.m. at Melrose Elementary School in the Library, 1752 13th Ave S, St. Pete.
You can contact Pastor Rainey at or (727) 420-1326.

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