It’s All About The Kids . . .

Happy Hump Day, All!

I guess I want to start out by saying how grateful I am to have been accepted into your lives, those of you who are reading this. I, like many of us, come from humble beginnings, and, while I remain humble at heart, I am a warrior in spirit. As a child, I was the youngest of four, wearing “hand me down” clothes, and grew up in a project in a suburb of New York City … picture that. My mother cleaned houses, while working for the local day care, girl scouts, flower club and student aid society. My father was an auto mechanic but fought hard with a 9th grade education to work as a security officer for Pinkerton Detective Agency. While I have been told by some that we weren’t “really poor”, I felt it was poor enough to indicate only one direction for me to go – UP!

Last night before retiring to sleep after a wonderful class with adult Haitians at the H.E.R.O. office in Oakland Park, FL, I watched the news and noticed that the Miami Dade Public Schools was the recipient of the prestigious Broad Foundation’s “Broad Prize” at a ceremony held in New York City. The school district, fourth largest in the nation led by superintendent Alberto Carvalho, has approximately 90% minority students (black and hispanic), 75% receiving subsidized lunches, will receive $550,000.00 in scholarships for students who demonstrate financial need AND academic improvement to aid them in attending college! “It’s all about the kids, y’all!” Those persons identified as having contributed to: 1. improving student achievement; 2. raising graduation rates of minority students; and, 3. increasing the percentage of minorities reaching advanced levels on state exams, were teachers and administrators, parents . . . and of course, “The Kids” themselves! How cool! How rewarding! What an accomplishment … by ALL involved! Kudos, y’all there in Miami Dade Public Schools!

There were several court cases involving youth here in Broward County, which, for the families sake, I am glad are over. I just couldn’t imagine being the mother of Josey Lou Ratley, a middle school student who was kicked in the head multiple times by an older school boy who wore steel toed boots … over a text message! The step father of Wayne Treacy was enraged that his step son was sentenced to 30 years of incarceration stating that the middle school girl should NOT have sent a text about Treacy’s brother who had committed suicide, essentially, blaming her for his son’s behavior. Needless to say, I have been told “way worse” things, and beg to differ with the kid’s step dad. As well, the final defendant in the case involving Michael Brewer who was set on fire after being doused with rubbing alcohol, it is said, because he refused to give his bicycle to school chums, has been found guilty as an accomplice for encouraging the other boys to set Brewer on fire. The other three are presently serving time.

May we continue to support our children, volunteering time, serving as mentors and being involved as responsible adults in their lives …. because they are watching what we do! Have a wonderful “Hump Day” and rest of the week as we prepare for the “Halloween Weekend”! Here in SoFlo, we may be looking at winds and rains from Tropical Storm Sandy that is hanging out over Jamaica and the Bahamas but heading out to the Atlantic this weekend.

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

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