A Dying Light – A Healing hand: A Pride Built Strong

How? When everything seems to be falling apart around you, do you rise and fight. When it feels as though you are cursed, from your first memories of being abused or neglected. Every time you close your eyes you see another person trying to hurt you, destroy you. How do you rise?

That is the question that runs through the heads of hundreds of thousands of people everyday, why should I rise? “How can I rise, I’m tired, I have no more fight inside.” A tear runs down their cheek as they talk, “I just can’t do it anymore.”

That story plays over and over in their thoughts, they hear the voices of all that hurt them, they feel the pain course through their bodies….”I have no more, I am no more.” As they say this, you know that there is a part of them that just wants to be happy, but with each strike, that part gets smaller and smaller.

The sun starts to shine in their life, things start to improve…then bang, another let down, another lie told, or another person scolded. That shine turns to darkness, that hope to fear, the fear turns to dread, and dread to complete and absolute darkness.

When you are in darkness like this what do you do? How do you find even the smallest ray of hope?

I believe that through all darkness, there is a way to grow and find hope, yet I also understand that when you are in this place….hope seems a million miles away. Sometimes it is just a kind word, or a smile that lifts the dirt, you can feel the earth move, and again for a second there is hope…..

 

We all want to believe that we are strong enough to fight the battles that are placed before us, we want to feel strong, think strong and pick ourselves up by the boot straps. The problem is that sometimes we aren’t wearing boots and we don’t always have that strength to channel from within. We are human, we are not meant to be alone, we are meant to be “ONE”. Humans are social beings, we are not designed to be alone, do alone, win alone, we are designed to be a Pride, a unit, a family. This is our strength.

So when the darkness begins to close in and your heart begins to break, as you feel the blood begin to seep, you can either let yourself fall deep, into the darkness….or search for the ray of hope, that hand that is searching through the darkness for you….that is your strength….find your Pride…Your Family…and let them pick up. This is strength. As for one we call, as many we rise and shine!

So when you ask yourself, why should I rise, how can I rise, I’m tired, I have no more fight inside…We say to you….you might not but your Pride/Family…WE DO! This is how we rise, we unite! We support each other, and build a Pride that grows each day, that tears down the blight, the plight, with incredible fight, we rise!

No matter where one may be, they are never alone in their struggles, unless they choose to be.  It is this choice that you make to fight alone that maybe your true adversary. You may survive the battle, but will you ever win the war.

No matter where one maybe, they are never alone in their struggles, if they choose to reach out…that hand is there…and together you will search through the darkest of night…to find that light…..it is there and together WE will LIVE!

So build your Pride….Start with one and grow into many….Unite our Prides and together we can truly UNITE these States!

#Lionheart; #buildingourPride; #buildavillage; #Pepper&SaltConsulting

Tick…Tick…Tick

Time in a blinkTick…Tick…Tick

Time passing us by…

Where does it go?

The sands of time slipping through my fingers,

and now it’s gone.

Tick…Tick…Tick

My time spent doing what?

Scrolling through an endless web of social…media…

Yet, Not having a….Social….life….

So focused on….what….?

Tick…Tick…Tick

The cost of time lost…

My happiness…My Pride….My Prime….

What am I doing, where am I going…

It’s almost time.

Tick…Tick…Tick

Time it’s closing in,

I scramble and cram,

I panic and blame.

Feelings of fear…Anger…frustration…

Surging through my soul.

Tick…Tick…Tick…

Fear of failure crashing down,

Pointing fingers all around,

looking to place blame…

Knowing it really lies in me,

Shame.

Tick…Tick…DING!!!!

What I could’ve,

What I should’ve,

What I didn’t.

Tick…Tick…Tick…

My time is not over,

I CAN…I WILL…I MUST….

Time…It keeps passing…Are YOU?

Working in Detroit Public Schools

I have been working at Osborn College Preparatory Academy for 3 years now and I have loved every moment! I have learned so much from this city, this school and the Osborn Students. I have watched these young people struggle through things that  most kids will not even have nightmares about, let alone experience. Yet, they come, they work, they survive!

That is the word I want to focus on right now, survival. Many of our students are in this mode all the time, they are struggling not because they are not smart, or because they do not care, but because they want to survive. I believe kids will do well if they can, and when they can’t something is blocking them. Many times for these kids it has to do with trauma, or unmet needs that are out of their control.

I know that test scores are important to the state and the federal governments, but the reality is our definition of what is causing the low test score is not correct! I do not believe it is about our teachers, I know, because the teachers in my building are excellent! There is no question that they are professionals, they care, and they challenge our students.

There are legitimate complaints though, about the conditions of the buildings and the lack of resources. Yet, these are not the root problem, they are a part of it, like a tree that is dying, and the bark is falling off. The problem does not lie in the bark, but under the grass and soil in the root of the tree. 

The root of the tree as it pertains to the youth of Detroit, are the traumas they have been through, as well as the the physiological, safety and love and belonging needs going unmet more times than not. This relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and the 3 brain model, when needs go unmet or a student has suffered through childhood trauma’s their ability to learn and produce are severely compromised. The bottom line is a majority of students that I work with are going through one or both of the aforementioned. Learning is secondary for them, not because it is not important, but because survival is more important.

What I see, What I experience while working with these youth, is power, strength, resilience, and a grit that is needed in our country today. They are extremely intelligent and capable of achieving great things in this world, but our educational system and our societies oppress these youth and I am tired of watching greatness slip through the cracks because of ignorance or lack of defining the true problem.

It is my belief, that if we were to address the real issue, focusing on mental health, healing trauma, providing the same resources of water, shelter, safety, love and belonging to these students, the change would be significant. We would see higher test scores, higher graduation rates, more students moving on to a post-secondary education, and would be productive members of society. Behaviors would improve, suspensions and expulsions would decrease, and the  City would rise on the backs of our youth.

One plan that we are working on through Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates and the University of Michigan Dearborn is to create a Trauma Induced Care School, where we build a strong foundation for the youth. Teaching, educating and dealing with the traumas in their lives. We will bring in counselors, social workers, and mentors to build a community of support. 

The second tier, will be tutors, mentors, and businesses to help build our students academically. To help truly make them college and career ready. The hope is that the students will be working throughout the year on understanding and building a strong self, in combination with academic support and career exploration through career pathways.

The third tier being career exploration, where students will begin to look at careers, colleges, and scholarship opportunities that will guide them towards their goals. We will encourage students to aim high,expect great things and work!

Education MUST Change

I have been in education for almost 20 years now and OUR FUTURE rests with us, the educators, the parents, and our government. We hold the future in our hands and have to learn from our past, that is what teaching is about, to learn, to grow and to share what we have discovered.

Look at our schools today in 2017, then rewind time and look at pictures of classrooms from 1917. The similarities are stunning and that is NOT a good thing. Look at cars today and from 1917, look at technology, or cities….the list is endless and the change with most except education is incredible. EDUCATION MUST CHANGE.

Here are some statistics from the PEW Research Center (February 15, 2017). Students are 71 countries that participate in the Programme For International Student Assessment, and where the United States falls is not impressive. This assessment measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15 year olds. This assessment was last taken in 2015 and is taken every 3 years. Below are the results for the United States and a few other Countries:

Country                       Reading                   Math                   Science         71 Total Countries

United  States                24th                       38th                      24th   

Canada                            3rd                        9th                         7th

Finland                            4th                        11th                       4th

Japan                                8th                        5th                         2nd

United Kingdom            21st                      26th                      16th

 

Why is it this way? We are one of the most powerful nations in the world, we are the greatest consumers and greatest in military spending by a large margin. Yet education we are not even in the top 5. What does that tell us about our countries future? If our education falls, in time so will our power! This does not mean that I am saying we need to change over to the Charter schools that Devos and Trump want, because they will only benefit the rich and well off, we need an entire educational overhaul and I have a SOLUTION: Which is a work in progress:

Our k-5 should remain the same, our kids need to build their basic skills, they need the socialization provide in Elementary school, the support and caring they receive needs to continue. After that is where the real change begins. Our kids need to begin to begin to develop their interests and skills starting at an early age.

  • 6th Grade: Students would continue taking their normal core classes; math, science, english, and science.
    • They would also take an elective that focused on careers and interests. Similar to the ACT Explore program, just as a class.
      • Semester 1: students would begin taking assessments that placed them into categories: Data, Things, Ideas, People – based on interests and skill sets. They would then be placed into small groups to begin exploring those categories and careers in those fields.
        • Companies from each category would be partnered with each school district and would act as mentors, experts and support for the teachers and students.
        • Career fairs would play a large role throughout middle school.
      • Semester 2: Students would take part 2 of career exploration. Learning about employability skills in each of the categories with a focus on their top 2.
        • Students would participate in work experience job shadowing. Learning what really happens at each job.
        • Students would research careers
    • 7th Grade: students would begin slowly changing their academic focus
      • Math, science, and English Classes would begin to become more career related as it pertained to the 4 categories (Data, Things, Ideas, People). Exploring how each Careers use each subject.
      • Career Exploration would become more focused, looking at developing skills and interests, while also exploring secondary interests and skills. Students would explore careers in the other areas (So if they placed in People and Ideas, they would explore careers in Data and Things.) Meeting with people in the field, and exploring the careers opposite of what they placed, to see if there is interest in careers outside of their placement.
      • Semester 2: Students would begin a hands on experience in their 2 main fields to begin the process of career focused education in 8th grade and beyond.
    • 8th Grade: Students would continue their core classes based on their career placement. With opportunities to work with classes in other career areas doing cooperative learning as they do in the actual career.
      • Students would be more involved with their career mentors, jobs shadowing, participating in mentoring the 6th graders, sharing and supporting their 6th grade student they would mentor.
  • High School will be shared in one of my next blogs.

 

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