“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men — the balance wheel of the social machinery.” – Horace Mann, pioneering American educator, 1848
The strugglers of today are the problem solvers of tomorrow.The truth is this: not all strugglers end up solving real life problems. Many end up in the prison pipeline or on the streets.
Those who become the Dickey and Connor of tomorrow, I mean problem solvers, always have one thing in common. Someone that believed in them. Someone believed they could succeed. Someone offered support, encouragement, resources, and every other thing they needed to strive.
One of the ways to show we believe in children is to give them a sound education. I believe education should be a leveler, giving both the poor and rich an opportunity to compete on the same platform and a chance at a good future. Every child should be a confident reader and writer by 3rd grade. This is not the case for many children.
We put the blame on parents or caregivers, saying they are not available, they do not care, or do not want to do what is best for their children. We shove the responsibility of educating a child to the parents. In my opinion, this should not be. As teachers, we have to do our part diligently and treat the students who come into our classroom like they are ours. Yes, this is a tough call yet rewarding.
Let me tell you about Dickey and Connor. These are two amazing men I was lucky to have met at the just concluded Palmetto State Literacy Association Conference which took place in Hilton Head, South Carolina last weekend. Dr. Dickey was a key note speaker at the conference, and Mr. Connor was an exhibitor.
Dickey grew up in a home that was unstable. Nobody showed up for him in school. He was all by himself. However, he had amazing teachers who gave him a solid foundation on which he built a B.Sc, Masters, and a Ed.D on. He is now an educational leader that advocates for school improvement and student achievement. He is a speaker, writer, educational consultant, changing the lives of children one school and district at a time.
Connor grew up with various learning disabilities that hindered his ability to read and write. However, he was given an amazing support group that allowed him to excel and eventually give back to his community!
My teachers were a major part in my success and they wanted me to progress just as much as I did! Even with everyone’s help, I had to push myself every day to become what I am today”- Connor
Today, he and his team have developed a book vending machine. With this amazing innovation, children are seeing reading as an important reward.
These two men have a lot in common. They had people who believed in them, who did not give up on them. These people ensured that they had the foundation on which every other thing could be built. Connor and Dr. Dickey now approach their work with deep understanding of the struggles faced by children who were once like them.
They have given me a reason to keep serving children. I am committed to ensuring every child I connect with can be confident in reading and writing. With a strong literacy foundation, every other thing can be built.
To all the teachers, administrators, principals, policy makers reading this, please remember, that every child should be given the opportunity to succeed. Do not break a child with your words or with programs, and policies that are not in the best interest of the children you serve. You have a responsibility to positively impact the lives of the children who are the leaders of tomorrow.
Do right by the children you serve!