Nzingha West is a special education specialist working in New York City. As an instructor Nzingha’s expertise has been featured onRadio Disney, 106.7 Lite Fm in New York, News 12 Connecticut, NPR Radio and several parenting magazines. Before starting her education career Nzingha worked in several labs as chemist. Nzingha has honed her education expertise over 10 years in New York City schools and private companies. Nzingha has worked with several prestigous schools such as The Harlem Children’s Zone, University Settlement, The New York Foundling, The American Museum of Natural History and The City College of New York among others.
Nzingha is also the owner of Urbane Academics where she provides Special Education Advocacy, Educational Testing and Private and Small group instruction from her office. Because of her vast level of knowledge and expertise, Nzingha has worked with students in some of the most prestigious schools in New York such as the Brearley School, The Dalton School, The United Nations International School, The British International School as well as several public and parochial schools.
Nzingha firmly believes in the fair education of all students and their families no matter their economic status.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Nzingha. Can you tell us what your latest book, Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster, is all about?
A: Thank you for having me. Is My Kid Stupid? Is basically an informational book that teaches parents how to navigate the education system and get the services needed for their child(ren) for free. It discusses how to advocate for your special/execptional needs child, how to assist during IEP and 504 meetings. It also discusses different therapies, how your child can earn 8 college credits for less than $100.00 and how to get free private school tuition and free in home tutoring.
It really is a good read for any parent in any stage of parenting. It’s not just for parents who have children with special needs.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
A: Because my book is a non-fictional informational book, I didn’t use characters persay, what I did do, is use my past experiences with my students and their parents working as an instructor and advocate, and I used those people as the basis of the stories told and the scenarios used. I also used the questions that I was asked as an advocate to provide the information and letter templates found in the book.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
A: My “characters” are all real people, I’ve neglected to use names, but the point has still been made in the scenarios and stories told. You have to be proactive.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
A: With my book, because it is a non-fiction book, I already knew what I would write about. I procrastinated a lot when writing it, but for the most part I knew what I wanted to say. I knew that I didn’t want to write another book that explained what learning disabilities are, and who/what/when/how they were caused. There is tons of information out there that explains that, what wasn’t available, in one place, is what to do after the diagnosis, what to say, who to speak to, what to write, what your rights are as a parent etc. It was important that my book express what is most important, what do you do after the diagnosis and how to get it done for free.
Q: Your book is set in Everywhere, USA. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
A: Ha! I love this question. I chose Everywhere, USA because I work with families from all of the states and a culmination of cities. This book doesn’t a regional story, it affects so many people in several different ways. I wanted to make sure that no one was alienated, that whoever read this book, whether your child has a learning disability or not found something helpful.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
A: Not really, there really is no setting. The book is purely informational and super short. Perfect for today’s reader who wants to get right to the meat and potatoes of the book.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
A: On page 69 of my book Is My Kid Stupid? Avoiding an Educational Disaster, I am discussing how to choose extracurricular activities for your child if he/she has a learning disability. I am explaining several activities such as engineering classes, drumming and DJ classes; as well as how to choose which activity is best for your child.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
A: One of the excerpts I like the best is located on pages 36&37.
1. Waiting too long to act
Can you imagine a doctor (God forbid) coming to you and saying, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, little Johnny has cancer and we need to operate.” Would you wait around and see what happens, chock it up to little Johnny being lazy or punish little Johnny? No! You’d do whatever it took to fix little Johnny’s problem. Get my drift?
Obviously, cancer is life threatening and scary, and in no way is it equivalent to hiring a tutor. However, when your child has a problem, waiting for it to fix itself won’t happen. Think about all the other problems in your life that magically fix themselves with no assistance from anyone or anything… Have you found one yet?
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Nzingha. We wish you much success!
A: Thank you! I was happy to do it.