What Made Ms. T Matter Most to Me

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Teachers Matter. This hashtag used by the Global Skills Education Forum, GESF earlier this year and  now the catch phrase is more than a hashtag or catch phrase to me. Teachers Matter to me because had it not been for teachers, education, one of two things that transformed my life, would have definitely eluded me.

As a maladjusted child, I struggled in school despite possessing great academic prowess throughout my academic life. Nothing could fill the void left inside by my mother who decided that I should not have been born. As a high-spirited child, I carried on with life, albeit fighting beasts such as feelings of insignificance, emotional imbalances, self-doubt and fear, inability to trust and inappropriate advances made by close relatives. Who could I share these horrors with? I was brought up in a household in which I was to be seen and not heard and so I tried hard enough to live by such rule.  Well, every full cup must run over. Sadly, most of my spills occurred at school. To some teachers I was the girl with the attitude that wouldn’t get very far in life.

Truth be told, I was blessed with some of the best teachers and lecturers throughout my primary, high school and even college years. And maybe some of the teachers were made the above-mentioned judgment had valid points – I had issues. These issues had they been left untended would most likely result in the destruction of me. Even though most of my outstanding teachers and lecturers inspired me in various ways, whenever I think of a life-changing teacher this one teacher, Mrs. Donna Thompson comes to the forefront of my mind. Mrs. Thompson, or Ms. T as I affectionately refer to her, bore the name ‘Bad-pickney Defender’ in her selfless pursuit to reach students like me who lacked one thing or another but were continuously brushed aside and sometimes even pushed into greater lack by people who should have been fully invested in our well-being.

During my mid-teen years life got even more horrendous at home and life at school was not better in my eyes. When most persons turned a blind eye to my situation, Mrs. Thompson reached out to me and never stopped showing she cares. She provided me with emotional support, built my self-esteem, showed me how brilliant I was – validation I never got from my family, took care of my physical needs and provided a place of refuge – just somewhere I could go to clear my head. When I walked away from high school because of the surmounting stress, she formed a team which included the school counsellor, and called an intervention. This team ensured that I sat my exit exams instead of wasting time and money. Because of Ms. T’s actions, I could have matriculated to just about any university if I could afford to. She never gave up on me, always supported me and is very much still a part of my life. Mrs. Thompson is the difference between teachers who know their content but do not know their students and teachers who know their content and know their students because they care about the people they teach.

Today, I am a heart-centered educator who is passionate about knowing my students and teaching beyond written standards and assessments. Connecting with students, making a real difference and impact in their lives and giving back, and being empathetic in my classroom and  society at large  are things I value above all.  To leave as powerful a legacy as Mrs. Thompson, I teach my students to do the same as the mark she left on me is an indelible one.

 

 

 

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Sania S. Green-Reynolds is an overcomer, and award-winning international educator who is passionate about personal and professional growth and cultivating the richest, most diverse learning experiences for learners. She is the founder and director of Lit Publishing Ltd., a mom, wife, visionary, teacher-leader and trainer, and resourceful friend and colleague. Apart from being an extroverted-introvert who likes a light yet empowering conversation, she likes meeting new people, spending time with family and friends and exploring new content and business ideas. Sania has authored and co-authored Amazon Best-selling books, transformed her clients’ lives through coaching and the re-channeling of creative energies, and inspired change among people across the globe. In 2018 she was selected as a KDSL Global Fellow.

Connect with her on LinkedIn – @Sania Green-Reynolds or on Twitter @SaniaEmpowers

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KDSL Global interviews Sue Beers

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Our KDSL Global Intern recently had the opportunity to interview Sue Beers, the Executive Director of MISIC. Now serving 160+ school districts in Iowa and other states, MISIC began in 1998 as a collaborative between 15 school districts in central Iowa.

 

What inspired you to work in education and curriculum? 

My mother and grandmother were teachers. I just followed in their footpaths! My interest in curriculum development came for designing my own lessons and curriculum, as we had no state or local curriculum guides. I received a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction and while doing that study, became intrigued with not only writing curriculum, but leading others in this work as well. As a Director of Curriculum for 19 years, I had the opportunity to work with teachers from all content areas and grade levels to design and implement high-quality curriculum.

 

Tell us about the books you have written for ASCD.

As a former language arts teacher, literacy has always been my passion. Early in my career, I discovered that I had a significant number of high school students who were reading below the 5th grade level. I also realized that even my high-performing students were unable to independently process and understand the content-area text that they encountered. Many had simply stopped reading and waited for teachers to tell them what they needed to know.

I started researching and studying how to help students use text to learn in all content areas. This has been my lifelong passion and resulted in my writing 5 Action Tools for ASCD in the area of literacy in the content areas. The books were Reading Strategies for the Content Areas, Reading Strategies for the Content Areas Volume 2, Writing to Learn in the Content Areas, Adolescent Literacy, and Teaching 21st Century Skills, which included a great deal of literacy connections.

In addition to literacy, I am passionate about providing high-quality professional development programs for teachers and administrators. ASCD asked me to develop a set of tools for this, resulting in another action tool on this topic.

 

 

What is the importance of integrating literacy skills in science curriculum?

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards include alignment to the literacy skills students need to be able to read, write about and talk about science concepts. If one knows a lot about science, but cannot share that knowledge by communicating with others, the advantage of that knowledge is loss. If they cannot read science content, they will miss a key method for gaining science knowledge. There are specific tools and methods for reading science that need to be explicitly presented to students. Science teachers are not asked to be reading and writing teachers, but rather to use reading and writing to help students learn their science content. Science teachers need to help students unlock the content by giving them the tools they need to comprehend the unique structures, vocabulary and nuances of scientific language. In addition, they need to provide opportunities for students to write about their learning in order to deepen and sharpen their understanding.

 

To learn more about MISIC visit http://misiciowa.org.

 

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Making connections among a myriad of initiatives and supporting learning through humor and example are professional passions for Sue Z. Beers.  In workshops delivered across the country, Sue shares strategies and tools for creating effective learning opportunities that prepare students for college, careers and citizenship.  Improving teaching and learning will necessitate that teachers, administrators and district personnel participants deeply examine their own current practices against best practices.

Sue’s 40-year career as a classroom teacher, program coordinator and district administrator has provided her with hands-on experience in the areas of effective teaching and school improvement.   As the founder and current Director of the MISIC Consortium, Beers works with over 160 school districts in Iowa and other states in guiding the alignment of curriculum, instruction and assessment in order to improve student learning.

As a consultant, speaker and ASCD Consultant, Sue has shared her expertise and experience with school districts and educational organizations nationally and internationally to improve teaching and learning in the areas of

  • Using Professional Learning Communities to Achieve Effective Instructional Change
  • Leading the Implementation of the CCSS: Strategies and Resources
  • CCSS Implementation in Literacy and Math Classrooms
  • Key Shifts of the CCSS in Literacy and Math
  • Reading and Writing Strategies in the Content Areas
  • Literacy Across the Curriculum
  • 21stCentury Teaching and Learning
  • Professional Development Planning
  • School Improvement Planning
  • Effective teaching strategies
  • Curriculum Development
  • Assessing Student Learning
  • Using Data to Inform Instruction

 

Sue co-authored ASCD’s “Leading the Common Core” professional development institute and is also the co-author of Reading Strategies for the Content Areas:  An ASCD Action Tool, Volumes 1 and II  and Using Writing to Learn Across the Content Areas:  An ASCD Action Tool.   She has also authored an ASCD Action Tool on Strategies for Designing, Implementing and Evaluating Professional Development, Adolescent Literacy and Teaching 21st Century Skills.

 

 

KDSL Global interviews author and College Success Coach Jahquan Hawkins

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KDSL Global recently had an opportunity to connect with author and College Success Coach Jahquan Hawkins.  Jahquan now serves as the Dean of Student Services at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus.  He believes in empowering the community by empowering others.

 

What inspired you to focus on higher education?

I’m a product of Detroit Public Schools. I was a first-generation college student who lost two academic scholarships and almost became a casualty of Academic Suspension during my freshman year at Wayne State University. The sacrifices my parents made to ensure that I received a quality education motivated me to right the ship even though I struggled initially.  I was also extremely blessed to have well-intentioned mentors in my life who saw potential in me and consistently invested in my personal and academic success.

Ultimately that experience was the foundation to my career in higher education.  I relish the opportunity to provide the support to this generation of students that so many provided for me when I was finding my way as an undergraduate.  My college journey was life-altering and has opened doors I never imagined I’d be able to enter.  I understand that college isn’t for everyone, but in many ways, it was invaluable to me.

 

Tell us about your newest book.

Donovan’s College Adventure was inspired by the energy and imagination of our “junior citizens.”  I published my first book, Finding My Way, three years ago, and that journey landed me in a multitude of spaces.  I would frequently participate in book fairs that were family oriented and people were bringing children of all ages.  Finding My Way was geared toward college-bound high school students and current college students.  I quickly realized that I didn’t have a book which spoke to the elementary grade audience.  Being the father of a 6-year-old, I’m constantly reading children’s books but I hadn’t read a book that speaks to the journey that connects kids to their career aspirations.

Donovan’s College Adventure introduces kids to the higher education environment through the lens of 5-year-old Donovan Mack.  Donovan is curious, outgoing, and loves to learn.   It’s a fun story that will hopefully help kids understand that attending college is a dynamic experience.  You learn just as much outside of the classroom as you do inside the classroom.  My goal is for kids to embrace the experience as a viable pathway to their success.

 

What can schools and parents do to promote a college going culture?

Early exposure is key.  Parents should be consistently talking about career interests with their children, connecting them with opportunities to meet people who work in those areas, and taking them to the spaces that ultimately will prepare them for their desired career.  There are a number of dual enrollment opportunities for students which allow young people to dip their toes in the water before they decide which higher education experience best suits them.

In my ideal world, we would have a much more fluid relationship between secondary and post-secondary institutions.  K-12 systems should be in regular conversation with colleges and universities about industry trends, articulation with curriculum and mentoring opportunities. Too often, students enter the higher education environment ill-prepared to adjust to the cultural norms.  We must expand upon our partnerships to ensure that this doesn’t happen.  The culture will change when we realize that we need each other in order to be viable for the next 100 years.

 

 

To learn more about Jahquan’s work visit:

https://www.jahquanhawkins.com

https://twitter.com/jahquanhawkins

https://www.amazon.com/Donovans-College-Adventure-Jahquan-Hawkins/dp/1947045237/ref=asc_df_1947045237/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=265892495433&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12163597628235931043&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9060325&hvtargid=pla-617048512209&psc=1

 

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About Jahquan Hawkins

Jahquan Hawkins is a proud husband, father, College Success Coach and native Detroiter. After struggling as a college student himself, Jahquan has experienced a successful career in higher education and now serves as the Dean of Student Services at Oakland Community College’s (OCC) Auburn Hills campus.  Jahquan believes in empowering the community by empowering others.  In 2011, he and a group of college stakeholders helped establish OCC’s Man Up Program which provides higher education exposure opportunities for young men in Southfield Public Schools.  Jahquan is the Co-Director of this dynamic effort which has seen over 300 young men earn transferrable college credit as dual enrollees at the OCC.  In 2016, Jahquan published his first book entitled Finding My Way: A Practical Guide to College Success.  The text has been adopted by institutions such as Harper Woods Schools, Job Corps, and Wayne State University as a mechanism to help students adjust to the culture of the higher education environment.  Most recently, Jahquan was named one of Michigan Chronicle’s 40 under 40 Honorees, joining other community trendsetters in the class of 2018.  Jahquan recently published a children’s book entitled Donovan’s College Adventure.  This latest release is designed to inspire youth to intentionally pursue their dreams through education.  In his spare time, Jahquan volunteers with organizations such as Detroit Kappa League, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and My Brother’s Keeper.