Growing up in inner city Chicago in one of the most infamous project communities – Cabrini Green, I had a feeling when I was 13 that I was going to become an educator in some arena. I watched my friends become drop-outs in 7th grade as they were always made fun of because of the lack of nice clothing, poverty, and being labeled losers.
At 13 years old, I started a leadership club on the weekends in the back of the alley with any young person who had dropped out of school by offering `free snacks’. I saved my money every week to buy snacks for children from 8 – 16 years old with one caveat – they had to first tell me every week what they were going to do to impact the world and if they would go back to school. I know that most of the kids only came for treats, but I knew when everyone started calling me `Cabrini Green Teacher’ that something was being stirred in me to help people see their value and worth – no matter the age.
I absolutely love being an educator and coach! I am an employment law and communications professor at several colleges and each time I enter a classroom or training facility I am thinking of the opportunities I will have to not just teach academic subjects or train in leadership skills but to also remind my students regardless of their age of their value and worth. Education for me is not just confined to a classroom setting and each person that I am in front of has a purpose in mind for what they want to achieve and my goal is yo help people believe in themselves and actually become champions of their own goals and destiny..
I always try to encourage my students regardless of their age that what they study can be transformed into real life goals when learning goes beyond a textbook to real life application, community service, and civic responsibility. I was homeless when I first began my studies for my Bachelor Degree in business and was living in a homeless shelter in Indiana. I studied under blankets with a flashlight and I persevered through homelessness because I wanted to do something that would not just allow me to earn degrees but rather to encourage my students who would be in turbulent situations to always press towards something that is greater than their present situation.
Education can be a thankless and tiring profession but more than anything it is so fulfilling and rewarding. My advice and encouragement to new instructors, teachers, and anyone in the education realm is to `always remember your `why‘. The WHY is all of the reasons that we wanted to become educators in the first p;ace. It is the lives we continually want to impact, the endless opportunities to encourage others along the way, and to be a catalyst of significant life change to others in positive ways.
“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats
Newly Released Book: The Colors of Culture – The Beauty of Diverse Relationships
The Value, Worth and Dignity of Every Person