Keisha Hawes and Her Journey to Meeting Street Schools

Story by cnmAdmin2030 / July 29, 2020

Recently recognized by Women Vision SC as “one of the most extraordinary women around the state,” Keisha Hawes lives up to that statement. Growing up in a farm community in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, Keisha grew up in the countryside with her family as her neighbors. Keisha, however, had different aspirations to become a doctor. Instead of spending her summers on the farmland, Keisha attended math and science camps where she shined. Her hard work continued throughout her school career where she finished as valedictorian and earned a biology scholarship to the College of Charleston. 

After arriving at CofC, Keisha quickly shifted gears after what was once very easy, became hard, and began “to feel like it wasn’t for me.” Much to the dismay of her parents, she switched her major from biology to urban studies with a concentration in policy and social problems. She has not looked back, only forward, as her science and medical knowledge have proved to be for a purpose over the years. At the young age of 31, Keisha suffered a heart attack. Today, she is a national spokeswoman for the American Heart Association where she shares her story and advocates for women to take better care of themselves. “1 in 3 women will die of heart disease. That’s someone’s mom, sister, friend. We don’t talk about it and we need to,” Keisha shared. 

When Keisha is not busy being a healthcare advocate, you can find her signature bright smile helping and advocating for the children of MSA-Charleston where she works as a Pre-K Interventionist and previously worked as the Front Desk Manager. “I get such joy working with kids. My heartstrings are tugged by children.” We know the children of MSA get joy working with Ms. Keisha, too. 

We are grateful to have Keisha a part of the MSS family and look forward to welcoming her back in the fall. Read more about her journey in the interview below! 

What drew you to the school and mission?

I’m a founding family of Meeting Street Schools. My oldest son, Mason, was one of the first groups of children to attend MSA. Initially, I was a skeptic. At the first interest meeting, I thought it all sounded good and if it worked, it would be incredible. However, there have been many instances when people have come into our communities with opportunities and it hasn’t worked out. I still decided to give it a chance and filled out the application. During our home visit, they said all the right things and we decided to try it out. I was open to seeing if it would benefit my child. Mason accepted and then a position opened up in the middle of the year for my daughter, Madison. She started and then I did. Since then, we’ve all been in. We’ve been there since the doors opened and I’ve always tried to be my authentic, self. I believe in nothing but the whole truth. I’m vocal as a parent and employee. Dirk (MSA-Charleston principal) has always accepted me for who I am and I’m grateful he has and continues to support my journey at MSA. I’m so appreciative of him. 

What’s your fondest memory since working at MSA?

It was my son’s 5th-grade graduation. I like it because when Dirk speaks he talks about the children from the time they walked into the building. It’s astounding how much they’ve grown and keep conquering every challenge they meet. Every class keeps raising the bar for the next group. As my son’s name was called, I professed a blessing over his life and didn’t realize I was saying it out loud. The entire audience was like “amen.”  

What type of long-lasting impact do you hope to have as an educator?

I want children to know that I care about them at the core of my being. My desire is to see every child succeed. It’s not just at work but in every facet of my life. I remember my son was playing a basketball game and there was a player on the opposing team having a hard time handling his emotions. He threw a basketball against the wall and was ejected from the game. I went to the restroom and saw him sitting and decided to have a little conversation with him. I told him he was a talented player, but needed to learn to manage his emotions, explaining he was doing his team a disservice by being out here and not out on the court. I told him what I want for my son, I want for you too. I want you to both win, off the court. I have the same love I have for my children for every single child I come in contact with inside and outside of that building. I hope someone would do the same for my child. 

What are you most looking forward to when you can safely return to school?

Hearing children’s laughter all throughout that building. Seeing brains grow. Seeing children excited about being at school.

What is something positive the coronavirus has brought you?

It definitely gave parents and families a different lens to view teachers and our education system. MSA has always said as a parent that you are your child’s first and most important teacher. Even though we pour so much into the children, the pandemic has revealed we need to continue empowering parents even more. There are some households that have had this empowerment and I hope it continues. I also think it’s great that children are being more exposed to online learning. It can help them in the future. 

What’s your best advice for navigating these uncertain times?

Take a breath. Allow yourself to feel, but also know that feelings are not facts. What I mean is feelings are more like indicators and you possess the power to control and change them. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed that we can become stagnant and not move. Give yourself grace and give yourself credit for standing here and being able to survive.


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About Meeting Street Schools

Meeting Street Schools (MSS) is an innovative non-profit where schools, families, and the community collaborate to create environments where all children can achieve their full potential. With a network of schools across South Carolina, including MSA-Charleston (Charleston, SC), MSA-Spartanburg (Spartanburg, SC), MS-Brentwood (North Charleston, SC), MS-Burns (North Charleston, SC), and MS-Jasper & Beaufort (Jasper, SC), we are committed to providing students with the rigorous education they deserve.

Founded on the principle that every child deserves an excellent education regardless of their socio-economic background, Meeting Street Schools has been a beacon of hope and a testament to what's possible in education. Our schools are driven by a strong focus on student achievement, evidence-based instruction, and relentless support of our students and their families.

While united by our shared mission, each MSS campus, is unique in its character, tapping into the local spirit of the communities they serve. Explore each of our schools and discover how they're creating a brighter future for students in South Carolina.

News & NotesFrom Clemson University to Master Teacher and Player Coach: Emily Godwin

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Our Schools

MSA – CharlestonDowntown Charleston, SC - Independent School - Since 2008 - 364 Students

Nestled in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina, MSA Charleston is more than just a school—it’s a hub for innovative learning and community engagement. As part of the Meeting Street Schools network, MSA Charleston embodies a commitment to excellence through its rigorous academic programs, inclusive culture, and focus on developing the whole child. With a curriculum that emphasizes both academic and personal growth, MSA Charleston prepares students to be curious learners and active citizens of their community.

MSA – SpartanburgDowntown Spartanburg, SC - Public School - Since 2012 - 323 Students

MSA Spartanburg stands as a pillar of educational innovation in the Spartanburg community. The school’s dedicated educators and supportive learning environment ensure that each child receives a high-quality, personalized education with exceptional faculty and teachers. MSA Spartanburg is distinguished by its emphasis on community partnership, fostering relationships that extend beyond the classroom to build a strong foundation for lifelong learning and success.

MS – BrentwoodNorth Charleston, SC - Public School - Since 2014 - 694 Students

MS Brentwood is a place where education meets opportunity. Serving the Brentwood area, this school is a testament to the transformative power of education. With a student-centered approach that celebrates diversity and encourages excellence, MS Brentwood is dedicated to equipping students with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. MS Brentwood also serves as a hub for the Brentwood community to access educational and wellness services. The school’s commitment to innovation, coupled with a warm, welcoming environment, makes it a standout in the MSS network.

MS – BurnsNorth Charleston, SC - Public School - Since 2018 - 478 Students

Located in a community rich with history and culture, MS Burns is renowned for its dynamic educational approach that intertwines traditional learning with modern teaching techniques. The school’s focus on experiential learning ensures that students at MS Burns are not only recipients of knowledge but also active participants in their educational journey. MS Burns exists to spark an educational revolution for the students and families in the Dorchester-Waylyn Neighborhood in North Charleston. With a commitment to creating a supportive and challenging academic environment, MS Burns is forging a new path in public education.

MS – Jasper & BeaufortJasper County, SC - Public Charter School - Fall 2023 -

MS Jasper represents the Meeting Street Schools’ dedication to community-based education with a global perspective. The school provides a nurturing environment where students are encouraged to explore their potential and cultivate a love for learning. With its diverse programs such as Eureka Math, and Wit and Wisdom, MS Jasper puts a major emphasis on character development, specialized learning and equips students to become thoughtful, engaged members of society, reflecting the MSS ethos of empowerment through education.


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“MSA is a family. Once you’re in, you’re in. They said they would follow our kids from K-3 to college and they actually lived up to what they said they would do. Not only did MSA challenge my daughter academically but it also exposed her to new things that she probably wouldn’t have been exposed to at our previous neighborhood school. Our journey at MSA was exciting and rewarding. They actually walk the walk.”

— Tyeka GrantParent

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“We come into work everyday truly believing that our students are capable of achieving anything that is put in front of them. Here at MSS, students are provided the opportunity to achieve success through the facilitation of well-educated teachers, resources, and a responsive classroom school environment.”

— NikToshia GilesTeacher

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“Meeting Street Academy is my family. They taught me that I am valuable. I am an asset to the world…They asked me, ‘What is your dream?’ I had never been asked that before. The MSS community gives me the strength to pursue my dreams.”

— Kadelyn SteedStudent