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Letter to the Editor: Caring Teachers

By Diana L. McKee

Many of us can trace our fondest memories or greatest leaps of confidence back to one of our school teachers.  For some it was the second grade teacher who encouraged them to excel at mathematics.  For others it was their 4th grade teacher who comforted them and encouraged them to strive even though sometimes the world just wasn’t fair.  For others it was the counselor who encouraged them to be a strong man or woman and to work hard to achieve their goals because after all, we must strive to shoot for the moon.  If we miss at least we will still be among the stars.

Nowadays it is hard to find teachers who care enough about the students to take a personal interest in their personal and educational development above and beyond their duty of just teaching.  I am sure we can find at least one or two at each school in our Inland Empire Community.  Would it not be fantastic if the majority of the teachers had the same high level of enthusiasm to devote themselves to the success of our students?

Now one of the new charter schools, which will open in August of 2016 is making the act of caring for your students a requirement of being able to teach at the school and remain a teacher at the school. Transforming Lives Charter School literally demand for the teachers to serve as a homeroom type teacher to essentially be a mentor type figure for each student in their homeroom  class.

No other schools in this area has gone through such extraordinary measures to increase the benefits of student support at the level of 7th and 8th grade.

Similar to other STEM schools, I am sure the scholastic aptitude of the students will increased dramatically due to the implementation of the homeroom type style of education, this new charter school is poised to be a record breaker as far as how many of their graduates do well after high school whether they chose to go to the military, university or to immediately begin their career.

If you know of children who are starting the 7th or 8th grade in August 2016 I suggest you register in the school before the spaces are all taken.  The name of the school is Transforming Lives Charter School.

CSUSB student Chidera Okam part of network to help keep young African American men in college

Chidera Okam

Chidera Okam

By Jamal Eric Watson

If colleges and universities want to find out how to best retain young African-American males, they may want to consult Chidera Okam.

Okam, 20, a senior at California State University, San Bernardino has some concrete and simple ideas that he says can prove useful in keeping young Black men in college.

The upper-class Black men have to get to the first-year students before they drop out of school, says Okam, an economics major from Nigeria who has plans to go on to law school. We have to target these young brothers and educate them about what college is really like.

Seem simple? Perhaps, but experts say that these kinds of high-touch examples go a long way in strengthening ties between young Black and helping them to graduate at higher rates.

For the past four years, Okam has been a member of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) on his campus, an organization founded by Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe in 1990, that has been a forerunner to some of the more recent initiatives focused on African-American men, including President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

Since its inception, SAAB has expanded its national presence and now includes more than 200 chapters on college and university campuses and in middle and high schools across the nation.

Okam and about 300 other young men mostly African-American gathered in Dearborn, Michigan, over the weekend with their faculty advisers for the group’s annual national conference. Over two days, the young men networked and talked during fireside chats about a range of topics from mentoring to community building. They also heard from actors Lamman Rucker, Dondre Whitfield and Halle Berry. This year’s theme was, “Transforming the Mindset … Redefining the Narrative.”

They say that the conference is an opportunity to decompress and reunite with others who are committed to advancing the success of other young Black men.

“It’s been an eye-opening experience,” Okam says of his participation in SAAB. “I am really committed and eager to reach out and help others coming along.”

These men hug and embrace. They’re not afraid to use the word love. And they openly share their life’s challenge, as one young man did when he reflected on being suicidal a few years ago. Now, he says, he’s on a forward path and has no desire to return to those dark days.

That form of brotherhood has caught the attention of national funders such as the Lumina Foundation, which has been a sponsor of the organization headquartered at the University of Toledo.

Amadin Agho, a marketing and supply chain management major at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), is a junior and attended his second conference.

At IUPUI, there are about 30 students who are active in the SAAB chapter. They get together regularly to talk about personal and academic matters.

“It’s amazing to see so many young Black men who are driven,” says Agho. “It’s also good to see that the SAAB family is growing and that there are new faces joining the family. We are able to lean on each other for support and that’s a good thing.”


 

Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at jwatson1@diverseeducation.com. You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson.

IEABSE to Award Scholarships to Students across the Inland Empire

Black GRAD

FONTANA, CA- In honor of our local youth, the Inland Empire Alliance of Black School Educators (IEABSE) presents “It Takes a Village” 2016 Scholarship Celebration, sponsored by Black Voice Foundation and New Life Christian Church. The scholarship celebration will take place on Saturday April 16, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Jessie Turner Center located at 15556 Summit Avenue in Fontana. This event is open to the public with a $20 donation, but seating is limited. The Scholarship Celebration foreshadows the IEABSE annually hosted Inland Empire High School Black Graduation Recognition Ceremony (I.E. Black Grad).

The I.E. Black Grad is the largest High School Black Graduation Recognition Ceremony in Southern CA and will be held this year on May 14 at 2 p.m. on the CSU San Bernardino campus where over two thousand individuals are expected to be present. The Scholarship Celebration offers family members, educators and community members an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of local African American students. The scholarship donors are comprised of local organizations and businesses as well as individuals who desire to see Inland Empire students thrive in their educational aspirations.

Seniors from all districts throughout the Inland Empire were invited to apply for our “It Takes A Village” Scholarship Contest where winners will be awarded from $500 to $1000. Each application was evaluated on academic merit, community service, perseverance and leadership.

This year’s special guests include 47th District Assemblymember, Cheryl Brown, and Fontana Mayor, Aquanetta Warren. There will be representatives from each donor organization and the high schools of the scholarship recipients. An anticipated highlight of the ceremony will be “The Reveal” where students will make final decisions on their college/university choice. For more information please contact IEABSE directly at ieabse@gmail.com.