Ishmiel Satchell-El brushes her daughter Empress's hair on a rainy afternoon. Ishmiel and her four children live on the Southside of Syracuse,  a neighborhood with some of the highest poverty rates in the country.


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Ishmiel and her four children live on the Southside of Syracuse, NY, a city notorious for its high poverty rates among African-Americans (in fact, the highest in the nation), and for its segregated school system. She decided to pull her three of her four

"God didn't give my children to the Syracuse City School District, he gave them to me."

      - Ishmiel Mantooth- El

The Syracuse, NY, school district is one of the most segregated in the country, along both poverty and racial lines. The result is an inner-city school district which is both under-funded and under-performing, with low test scores and high drop-out rate among African-Americans. 

In response to this crisis, Ishmiel Mantooth, herself a graduate of the city school district, pulled her children from the public school system to educate them at home, on the South Side of Syracuse, NY. 

She works nights at a hotel fourty minutes away so she can homeschool her children during the day. Her world revolves around her children, making sure they grow up to be sound, grounded individuals know who they are.

In a neighborhood designed to have its residents fail, Ishmiel, through love and endurance, gives the best life to her children. 

Every morning, the three homeschooled children do a Tai-Chi routine, following a television instruction, and then do a ten-minute work out with the help of a kid-friendly video. It helps them get centered and focused says their mother Ishmiel.
After dinner, the kids prepare for bed as their mother prepares for a nap before going to work. Mostly, they play and chase each other around the house, have fun with the punching ball, and jump on the bed. Solamon and Raziel are meant to sleep together i
On many occasions, Ishmiel takes her children to study at the public library. Here, she prepares her eldest daughter Empress to take the state test in the next few weeks.
Solamon, 6, wears his uncle's helmet and gets close to the candles his sisters gave to their mother for her birthday on September 5th this year. The candles are reaching to an end. The helmet belonged to his uncle, Ishmiel's brother, who passed away last

"It is so important for people to understand that these communities were designed to be this way.

We didn’t just all move to the Southside and decide to become nothing. 

And decide to be on drugs and decide to kill each others and decide to drop out of school or whatever the statistics that people say happens when you are from this area. We didn’t just come out of our moms’ wombs and say hey this is the life. This is what I want to do. This was designed.

So if you want to make a change go against the design."

- Ishmiel Mantooth-El

Every Thursday, the children and their mother attend youth group at their chucrh, Great Grace Church of God in Christ, in the Southside of Syracuse. There, the children play, learn songs, and study the bible, while Ishmiel leads a teenage girl group.
Solamon poses for a portrait in his home in the Southside. Solamon has a beautiful outgoing and emotional personality. For this reason, Ishmiel was called to pick him up from school on a regular basis last year.
Managing three different curriculums is tough and Ishmiel's days are very full. This is one of the exercises by Solamon.
Ishmiel Mantooth is trying to get her life together she says. Her goals: to glow god, to live harmoniously, and to have a financially stable  household. It should be easy, she says to live an organized life: she is organized at work, but at home, easy thi
Raziel is the only Satchell children who attends a regular school, just a few blocks away. In the morning, Ishmiel and his daughters walk him to school together.

"As a mother, I see myself as an example, 

I see myself as the example."

- Ishmiel Mantooth-El

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