This week, reporter Erica L. Green wrote an encouraging feature in the New York Times about the “I Promise” public school NBA superstar LeBron James opened last year through the LeBron James Family Foundation in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. To quote the article:
“This time last year, the students at the school — Mr. James’s biggest foray into educational philanthropy — were identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems. Some as young as 8 were considered at risk of not graduating. Now, they are helping close the achievement gap in Akron.
The academic results are early, and at 240, the sample size of students is small, but the inaugural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted extraordinary results in their first set of district assessments. Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.”
To read more about the school, its current impact and see photos from it, click here.
Father. Dad. Daddy. Papa. Pop. There are many different words we use to define one of the most important men in our lives. More than the disciplinarian. More than the one that wore hats and ties. More than “the fixer.” Along with mom, he’s the one who taught you how to be you…and as well as the true value of being you.
Black men, we celebrate you. Not just on Father’s Day, but every day. Here’s some of the things the precious men in our lives have taught us…
Be yourself. It’s up to you to define who you are. Don’t let anyone tell you what specific things you can or can’t do because you’re a man or a woman. If you want to be a surgeon, go for it. If you want to cook, cook. If you want to build something, be careful and don’t hit your finger with the hammer. If something needs to be cleaned, clean. Do you.
Handle your business, no excuses, no explanations. Being a truly great human being can mean many things, but having excuses is not one of them. Always be responsible.
Give and it shall be given. You need to be resourceful, and one of the most valuable resources are people. Rewarding people what they’re worth is key.
Try. Try. Try. It’s not always easy, but don’t give up doing the things you love to do. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, follow your heart and take pride in doing the things that bring you joy.
There is great value in a hard day’s work. Many children remember their fathers getting up early, working 6 days a week, always taking great pride in making a living. Years later, these are the children that rarely complain when they’re at work…because they remember that Dad always worked harder.
Education is key. You cannot put a price tag on a good education. Don’t settle for anything less than this. It’s something that no one can ever take away from you.
Be there for your children. Of all the things that kids remember the most about their fathers, things like money and fancy gifts aren’t generally at the top of the list. More valuable to them are those times Dad took them to the park, taught them something new, or simply took the time to spend some time with them.
It’s never too late to do what you want to do. Always try your very best to follow your heart and your dreams. Maybe it’ll hit you later in life what you really want to do. There’s nothing wrong with this. Just make sure you go for it.
Procrastination is a thief of time. Why put it off tomorrow? That is, unless you happen to have a time machine.
Having God on your team means you have the greatest teammate. No matter how tough life gets, having a relationship with God can help move mountains.
Have fun, go out…but not every night. Going out with friends and having fun is great. But don’t…
… be that guy/girl that’s out every single night. You’ll save money, people will have a better opinion of you, and when you do go out, those times will feel more special and you’re more likely to have more fun.
Always put something away for a rainy day. Save, save, save. Don’t just spend everything. There will come a time when you will be thankful that you did.
Never forget the beauty of being a kid. Things like working and saving money are essential and important things. But so is keeping a tight hold on your sense of fun, not taking yourself too seriously, and never losing the ability to just let go and be silly sometimes.
While putting her 12 children through school and working full time to provide for her family, Ella Washington, 89, never abandoned her goal to continue her education. On Saturday, she walked across the stage at Liberty University’s commencement as the oldest graduate in the Class of 2018, earning her associate degree in interdisciplinary studies.
Washington grew up in rural North Carolina during the 1930s, when education came second to working on the family farm. She dropped out of school in the sixth grade. But when she got married and had children of her own, she wanted more for them.
“She has always been a lifelong learner,” said Washington’s daughter Ellen Mitchell. “Her desire for learning and for pursuing an education became a family tradition. She taught all of her children how to read, write, and do math prior to their beginning school, just as her grandmother taught her and her siblings.”
Thanks to her faith in God and her perseverance, Washington enrolled in an adult education program and earned her GED diploma in 1978 at age 49. She had always wanted to go to college, however. In 2012, she enrolled in Liberty’s online program after a recommendation from Mitchell. “Liberty is a great university,” Washington said. “I would recommend Liberty to anyone because I did well.”
But she isn’t stopping at her associate degree; she is already working toward a bachelor’s degree in history at Liberty. “To me, history is a great subject,” she said. “Everybody should know their history and learn more about it. A lot of people don’t know much about history. There’s nothing wrong with learning more.”
She moved to Washington, D.C., as a young mother and had a variety of jobs, ranging from a custodian at the Pentagon to an office assistant to a certified nursing assistant at an adult daycare. She was still working up until about six years ago. “Coming to D.C., there weren’t many opportunities for a poorly educated black woman,” Mitchell said. “But she worked hard doing whatever she could to make sure we were taken care of.”
Mitchell said it was her mother’s drive to better herself that has always inspired her children, who also worked to make education a priority in their lives. “My mother is a remarkable woman,” Mitchell said. “I learned how to be strong because of her example. Now, she has set the bar for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Washington said her advice to her fellow Class of 2018 graduates would be to keep their sights set on using their education to the fullest.
“Education will help you make the best life for yourselves and those who come after you,” she said.
Michelle Obama is still devoted to “letting girls learn.”The former first lady marked International Women’s Day with a surprise visit to 12 female students at a combined middle and high school in Washington, D.C.
Obama had a roundtable talk with the girls at Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus, several of whom are from the school’s international program for recent immigrants, including some girls from Africa and Latin America. She announced the visit on Snapchat Wednesday morning, saying: “We’re celebrating International Women’s Day with a group of amazing young women. We’re going to talk about education — the importance of it in their lives and in mine.”
Another snap showed the moment Obama walked into a classroom and surprised the stunned young women, who responded with a chorus of “Oh my Gods!”“Did you know?” the former first lady said with a smile. “You didn’t know.”“This school is amazing,” she added as she greeted the girls.After a round of hugs, Obama and the young students sat down to talk about education and their goals for the future.
The former first lady later took to her Instagram to share a photo and reflect on her visit.
“Celebrating the beauty and diversity of our country on this #InternationalWomensDay with some of the many fierce and promising girls here at DC’s Cardozo Education Campus,” she wrote. “I loved visiting this school because it tells the American story in so many ways. Three years ago, Cardozo established its International Academy with only 150 students, but today it boasts nearly 400 who are thriving in and out of the classroom. By embracing young immigrants and their diverse cultures and contributions, Cardozo is a model for our entire country. The girls I met with today are ready to take on the world. We’ve just got to make sure that the world is ready for them.”
Chance the Rapper announced on Monday that he will donate $1 million to the Chicago Public Schools Foundation “for arts and enrichment programming.” The announcement came at a press conference held at Westcott Elementary School in the Grammy-winning rapper’s native South Side neighborhood of West Chatham, during which he presented an oversized check to students flanking him on both sides.
The announcement comes days after the Coloring Book rapper met with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to discuss what he believes is a lack of state funding directed towards the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) systems. “The governor gave me a lot of vague answers in our meeting and since has called me over the weekend,” Chance told a group of reporters and students gathered on Monday. It’s a sentiment he shared minutes after his talk with Rauner on Friday, when he told the Governor, via reporters, to “Do your job!” “Our talks were unsuccessful,” Chance continued. “Gov. Rauner still won’t commit to giving Chicago’s kids a chance without caveats or ultimatums.”
Chance’s efforts principally stem from Rauner’s veto of a bill that was set to delegate $215 million in funding to CPS, “an important compromise on behalf of the schools and the students across the state,” Chance noted. As a result, CPS may have to lay off thousands of staff or, as Chance passionately explained, even cut the school year short by 13 days. “This means over 380,000 kids will not have adult-supervised activities in June and could possibly be put in harm’s way,” he explained.
The rapper said his $1 million donation was made possible through ticket sales for his upcoming spring tour and a joint effort between concert promoters (including Live Nation, AEG and Ticketmaster) and local venues and promoters across the country. The rapper did not give specifics on how the money would be raised, but noted that the aforementioned companies “were able to band together to use funds from ticket sales to donate to CPS.”
On top of the rapper’s $1 million, Social Works, a local non-profit organization Chance created last year, will match every $100,000 raised for the CPS with an additional $10,000 to be allocated for specific Chicago public schools. (The charity has set up a website to receive donations for CPS.) In light of the $1 million donation, Chance will give out 10 additional $10,000 donations to select local schools, including Westcott Elementary.
When former first lady Michelle Obama walked into a D.C. high school classroom, the stunned students erupted in tears. One student even darted out of the classroom to regain her composure before she could sit next to her. Obama, who still lives in Washington, made a surprise visit Tuesday to Ballou STAY High School to speak with 14 students for two hours.
Upon arriving, she hugged each of them before taking her seat in the circle. “Once she came in, it was an inspirational feeling,” said Alliyah Williams, 18. “She was so sweet and warm. She was like a mom.”
After visiting the public alternative high school in Southeast Washington, she tweeted “Always love visiting DC schools. Thank you for hosting me today @BallouSTAY. Stories of students #reachinghigher continue to inspire me.” The tweet referenced the White House initiative “Reach Higher” she launched to encourage students to continue their education.
According to cnn.com, First Lady Michelle Obama gave her final White House remarks in an emotional speech today, thanking her supporters and saying, “being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I’ve made you proud.”
She included these powerful, encouraging thoughts in her last words to the public as FLOTUS:
I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong,” Obama said, her voice breaking several times near the end of her remarks. “So don’t be afraid. You hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of you boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear.
Watch her moving speech about education in its entirety below:
A new study by researchers at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University finds that middle and high school students of all races have a more favorable opinion of Black and Latino teachers than they do of White teachers.
The authors of the study examined data on 1,680 teachers in 200 urban schools who taught more than 50,000 students in grades six through nine.
Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, assistant professor of international education at New York University and a co-author of the study, said that “we were surprised to find that minority teachers are not just viewed more highly than White teachers by minority students, but in many cases by White students as well.” Asian American students preferred Black teachers even more than did Black students.
The study, “The Importance of Minority Teachers: Student Perceptions of Minority Versus White Teachers,” was published on the website of the journal Educational Researcher. It may be accessed here.
Tavis Smiley, author and television and radio broadcaster, has established a new scholarship at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington. The scholarships will be earmarked for African American students, with preference given to those who are the first in their family to attend college.
For students to be eligible, they must be accepted into the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, demonstrate financial need, and to have shown leadership in their schools and communities.
Smiley said that “my education at Indiana University and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs continues to contribute so much to what I’ve accomplished in life. I want to make sure students from backgrounds like mine can enjoy the same opportunities I did.”
A Connecticut high school history teacher chosen as the National Teacher of the Year on Thursday says she was surrounded by poverty, drugs and violence as a child but imagined other possibilities for her life with help from educators.
Jahana Hayes, who teaches at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, CT, was selected for the honor by the Council of Chief State School Officers. She will be recognized by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony this coming Tuesday.
Hayes, 44, grew up in a Waterbury housing project and became a teenage mother while still in high school. She said the influence of her own teachers taught her that a school’s job sometimes overlaps with the job of parents, and she wants her students to know there are no dead ends.
“No matter where you are or how bad you think it is, there’s always opportunities for growth and opportunities for improvement,” she said. “I think too often, especially at the high school level, people deal in absolutes and students get the message that, ‘If I mess up or I don’t do everything exactly right right now, that that’s the end of my story.'”
At an urban school with a widely diverse student body, she said she has found teaching is a lifestyle that extends beyond the contracted hours. She finds herself serving not only as a teacher but also as a counselor, a confidant and a protector of her students.