My KPFT 90.1 FM Houston colleague Sedrick Keeler, co-host of the Conscious Mindset sent me a note asking that I join a team of men talking to young boys at an inner-city elementary school. Of course, I said yes. I figured I would go, say something to attempt to encourage and inspire these young boys and then take off.
While at the University of Texas I was a big brother. I have done some working with kids before here in Houston as well. But the few hours I spent at Highland Heights Elementary School was all inspiring to me. I think I got more out of the event than the kids.
I was in an environment where I saw teachers who cared about every single kid throughout the school, from the principal to the teachers, to the aides. You can’t pay these educators enough for what I saw. They were teachers, mentors, advisers, and surrogate parents all at once.
Students were all Black and Latino. The men that came to the school were engineers, business owners, factory workers, airline pilots, social workers, among many other professions.
We spoke to the boys on many topics including respect, accountability, dress code, what things affect their future, building trust, healing on the inside, and much more. More importantly, we tried to get the boys to lay it out there.
While the third graders were more restless, they were initially the ones that were more open right from the beginning. There is one specific incident that touched me. A group of Latino kids was in the room speaking Spanish. One of the men on our team told one of them that I could understand what they were talking about while he was discussing trust. The kid looked at me laughed, looked back at the man and said, ‘Nah.’ I responded in Spanish. At that point, I had the full attention of the kids who started asking many questions interrupting my colleague’s talk. He then used the implicit trust generated by language to further his discussion on trust.
As our session ended, many of the Latino kids came up to me asking questions on professions and a few other things. I am pretty sure educators understand the dynamic of the different things that can trigger kids to get them to engage further. Seeing it in real time was educational for me.
I will repeat ad nauseam. Teaching is the most important profession bar none. It is sad that in this society we reward so many professions above one that is critical to the continuation of society. A society that values those who move capital instead of humanity and knowledge is destined to failure. And we are now seeing the slow decay in real time. Absent these heroes, said fall would be that much faster.
A few pictures from the event.
I did not do any videos during our interactions with the kids but here are some at the start and end of the event.