Chicago native, now Atlanta resident, Caprice Banks is a high school teacher, college professor, and education consultant who has recently added the title of “author” to her impressive resume. She taught at Orr and Wendell Phillips high schools here before she left town a few years back.
Banks’ debut novel, little girl, GROWN, explores the relationship between a mother and a growing child. Readers go through an emotional rollercoaster relating to the characters as mother and daughter growing together and understanding the obstacles that they face.
N’DIGO recently sat down with Caprice to learn more about her new book and her thoughts on how we can improve our educational system.
N’DIGO: In your own words, who is Caprice Banks?
Caprice Banks: I am a lifelong learner and educator dedicated to redeveloping the mindset of our youth in preparation for an abundant adulthood.
What did you dream of doing for a living as a child and when did you know that you wanted to be an educator?
I liked to write on chalkboards. During my time as an only child, I played school by myself. I was the teacher and the student. Don’t ask me how! I loved to learn. My undergraduate degree is actually in Counseling Psychology. I fought with myself against becoming an educator.
I didn’t want the huge responsibility of caring for children. I knew I had a soft spot. I knew I would mother them and nurture them in addition to teaching them. That kind of vulnerability was jarring to me. I was afraid to open my heart.
But deep down inside I knew that a new way of life was waiting for me on the other side of my fear. So I jumped. Eight years later, I know that becoming an educator is unequivocally one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made.
Tell us about your new book, little girl, GROWN and the inspiration behind it?
little girl, GROWN is a fiction novel loosely based on my interpretation of life events and family stories I knitted together. The characters were inspired by people I’ve met in my lifetime that I found interesting, lovable, complex and crazy. In little girl, GROWN, I wanted to highlight that a child’s village is a mix of these kinds of characters; each influencing a child’s overall development.
What, if any, statement do you want to make with the book?
The statement I want to make is a question…How are we growing our little girls? What are we, as a village, pouring into them? How are we caring for them holistically? As the village, what is our role and responsibility? This conversation is critical.
In your opinion as an educator, what are the biggest things currently needed to improve our educational system?
For starters, a complete overhaul. A realization that the factory model of schooling is antiquated. Students are bored because the model of education is the same as it was for their grandparents.
Also, an entrepreneur track. Creativity is often stifled. We want students to be unique but to also conform to educational norms. It is critical that we cultivate creativity in children. An entrepreneur track can teach students how to create businesses that will sustain them and their families.
As a native Chicagoan, what are some of your favorite sites to show out of town friends and family when they visit?
The West Side. It’s my favorite. Sites include my grandma’s house; my elementary school; the murals painted along the green line viaducts at Central and Lake; the Austin library, where I spent countless hours reading and researching; and Little Jack Park – well at least that’s what we call it.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m an extroverted introvert. In essence, I’m a turtle. As comfortable as I am around people, I absolutely enjoy time to myself. I am never bored.
Can you name one book that changed or really impacted your life?
It was those beautiful southern voices in J. California’s Cooper’s Family, which I’m sure were inspired by Mother Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.
For more information on Caprice and her book, little girl GROWN, connect with her on social media at @littlegirlgrown.