My Quest To Teach

November 21, 2014

A State of Mental Crisis in America

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Jackson @ 4:02 am

A State of Mental Crisis in America
by William Jackson

The nation asks once again why, why would a young
person that is intelligent, talented, successful, with the
world open to them have the challenges of possible
mental challenges?

The past several years there is a growing concern for
and need to focus on mental illness prevention and
treatment. The educational systems of this nation are
seen as a macrocosm of the communities that
are in constant flux. Trying to address and find solutions
to challenges that at one time were family secrets, kept
locked away in mental institutions, the prison systems of
their communities, mental basements of the mind of
family members, verbal deniability because when
suspicions are raised about potential mental implications
families shutdown and hide.

There are seemingly fewer places to hide from potential
mental breakdowns that our young people are experiencing.
Once thought of as a safe haven where violence would
never happen our educational institutions are now
patrolled by armed security, there are military like drills that
law enforcement agencies are practicing for potential
threats and students are considering carrying weapons
for protection and pro-action not just reaction.

The recent events at Florida State University in Tallahassee
have brought the realities of mental instability and the
potential of violence home for me with my son attending
Florida State in a Master’s degree program. Working to
solidify his future with a quality education. The furthest
thing from my mind as I’m sure with thousands of other
parents is the safety of our children on a university campus
and even still in a library. An institution of higher education
and the advancement of knowledge and intellectualism.

Realities hit home fast and the realization that your child
could be hurt or killed is not a after-thought or a late night
nightmare, but a reality early in the morning. As the news
unfolded I’m sure other parents prayed for the safety of
their children and called, texted or used some other forms
of communication to contact their children. Mines was asleep
in his bed when he answered his cell phone, oblivious to the
events that happened in the early morning.
Relieved to hear his words that he was OK and even asking what
happened, I hesitated because as a parent I did not want him to
know that I was scared, parents try to show a foundation of
strength, but at times we feel the helplessness of allowing our
children to grow-up in a world that as we age is not as safe as
we thought it was when we were our children’s ages.

As the events leading up to the tragic shooting unfold we will learn
many things about the young person from their family history,
academic and athletic achievements, travels, loves, challenges
and other personal information.
Then diving into their mental states or the events that contributed
to their actions. We must also with sympathy and empathy look at
the challenges that this person had to address and deal with. Was
there support or no support, where family and friend available, what
was their medical history, etc.

The warning signs have been placed before us, but how many are
looking, listening and taking action. Football players with their
concussion issues, military men and women with PTSD, children
that threaten to kill their teachers and children that have
murdered their parents.These are the events in our newspapers,
television news headlines, Social Media events and discussions
at the water cooler and dinner tables.

There needs to be action not just reaction, prison cells are not the
answer, there needs to be more discussion, dialogue, and
engagement. Time to stop being silent about mental challenges
that are giving rise to suicides like Robin Williams and the increase
in deaths and injury.

Get involved and volunteer.
Jacksonville Mental Health in the African American Community
Facebook friend request to JaxMhaac
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Attend meetings this November 22nd 2014
623 Beechwood Street, Jacksonville, FL 32209 at 10:00am

November 20, 2014



The recent Stop Bullying Now presentation sponsored by
B.O.L.D. Parents at their monthly meeting held at Eugene Butler
Middle in the Duval County Public School system provided the opportunity
to share information to empower and engage students and parents on the
serious subjects of Bullying, Cyberbullying, Sexting and laws associated
with the issue of harassment and threatening actions by students and parents.
To increase the discussion on how to prevent Bullying through discussion, parent/
teacher / administrative collaboration and through mutual respect. To provide
students a chance to share their experiences and receive guidance that empowers
them and builds self-esteem.

The B.O.L.D. Parent Meetings are designed to provide a supportive platform
for parents and students to address student and parental concerns in the
school environment. To help the collaboration of the Parent Teacher
Association that is school based and administration in preventing challenges
like Bullying/Cyberbullying and Sexting. Too many times students are
not allowed to share their experiences and feel left out about situations that
directly affect and influence their needs. B.O.L.D. meetings allow open and
honest dialogue for parents and their children.

Present were parents and students that had concerns about defining bullying,
school policies, involvement of law enforcement, Cyberbullying, Sexting and
snitching as it relates to personal safety. Facilitated by RAISE Florida Network,
War on Poverty, My Quest To Teach (William Jackson), New Town Success
Zone (Dr. Irvin Pedro Cohen).

Mrs. Jewel Flornoy on Right

Mrs. Jewel Flornoy, of War On Poverty set the tone of the evening by introducing
Dr. Cohen with the New Town Success Zone and their mentoring and tutoring
services to challenged students, the efforts to coordinate community partnerships
with law enforcement and education. William Jackson with My Quest To Teach
“I Will Survive Bullying,” a prevention and raising self-esteem presentation
that requires active engagement and involvement by students and parents.
Some of the areas addressed were:
1. Parents and students will understand the definition of bullying according
to the Student Code of Conduct. 2. Parents and students will understand
Social Media Bullying, Sexting and Cyberbullying. 3. Parents and students
will learn how to file complaints if they are exposed to bullying and the elements
of these behaviors. 4. The importance of establishing self-esteem, pride and
determination to be successful. 5. Building self-esteem in boys and girls.

In attendance was Karen Landry, RAISE Florida Network Executive Director and
Ms. Huggins, BOLD Director Eugene Butler Leadership Schools

The War on Poverty-Florida strives to build healthy communities through
community organizing and engagement, coalition development, capacity building,
and advocacy, by increasing access and enhancing economic development.

War on Poverty:
RAISE Florida Network:
William Jackson blogs at My Quest to Teach:

November 19, 2014

Building HBCU Intellect Through Blogging

Building HBCU Intellect Through Blogging
Part Two

Blog 3d text

In the world of digital creations literacy, reading, comprehension,
critical thinking, higher order thinking , analytical thinking
and common sense skills are important.
The direction of this series of blogs is the focus on the importance
of the integration of Social Media into the building of intelligence
and intellectualism in HBCU students.

There is a struggle to gain students to attend HBCU institutions and
the continued struggle to keep them, especially males. One of the
challenges is building the literary skills that allow students to embrace
reading, building comprehension and the development of the skills
they will need when HBCU students graduate, those skills that
demand the ability to think. Thinking critically, analytically and
embracing a higher order of intellectual abilities that transcends the
“hood” or “neighborhood” linkages that so many still carry with them
into higher education. This process of mental renewal and psychological
elevation takes time and dedication.

photo 4

As an instructor at an HBCU in Jacksonville, Florida; Edward Waters
College there is a critical need for this historic institution, to educate,
empower and provide a second and if necessary a third chance to
change a young person’s life through educational achievement.
Many HBCU’s struggle with how many opportunities to provide
struggling students. The easy answer is until they are successful,
if one student fails then the mission and vision of educational
success is diluted. HBCU’s are failing their missions if one student
drops out and fails.

Reading success can be obtained only through exposure and insertion
into the world of reading. The reality is that many HBCU students are
not reading on their desired reading and comprehension level and
lack comprehension skills on a college level, so these skills need a
foundation based not just on need, but built on a foundation of
connection to authors, storytellers, poets, spoken word and even the
integration of rap that provides an opportunity of lyrical and musical
expression. Making learning relevant is important so HBCU students
understand how to apply their learning, their education.
During this series of blogs I discuss authors, poets and others that
have contributed to “telling a story” that encourages thinking,
rationalization, understanding and taking responsibility for their own
growth in literary expression. This is not always an easy process in
education especially in higher education because of the lack of
exposure in middle and high school. Black students may be
exposed to literary works, but it is not offered as important to their
growth, more to the fulfilling of educational curriculum’s.

I attended a predominately African American high school in
Camden, New Jersey (Camden High School), the instructors there
emphasized reading and my mother a business teacher was a
voracious reader that encouraged me and my brother and sister
to read. There was a home role model and educational role models,
unfortunately to many African American homes and schools this
is not present. My children had models when they saw me reading
novels, going to the library and trips to the museum. African American
churches at one time also encouraged reading with tutoring, reading
teams and other inspiring activities. Too many of these have faded
away as the elders, seniors and educators pass away.
Stereotypes that say “Blacks don’t read” have to be overcome and
even applying more African American writers, Hispanic writers,
Haitian writers and Native American writers so students can
“see they have value and literary purpose.” Many students of color
do not make the connections to white writers and dispatch the
importance of them.

“The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in
a book,” a damning quote as we live in the Information Age.
Blacks have earned the opportunity to read any book on any
subject through the labors of their fight for freedom and liberty.
They have earned the right to write and blog to “write their stories,”
yet too many Blacks refuse to read and write. Allowing others to
write about them in stereotypical and bordering racists ways.
Black Bookstores should not go out of business, they should thrive
and be influential in Black communities and Black schools.
Black schools should have curriculum’s that embrace “Blackness,”
that teach cultural greatness and history. Curriculum’s need to be
important because HBCU students in many cases rely on the
truth, exposed to writers of diverse backgrounds that embrace

Engagement is important and the use of multimedia tools like
YouTube are important so students can see and can hear authors.
As a growing and developing blogger even after 8 years and over
300 blogs to date with over 4000 followers nationally, I read and listen
to diverse authors to enhance and build my writing skills to make
connections to my readers that are diverse, not to gain the attention
of Brands, but to the building of creative thought and celebration of

Many times I reference Chinua Achebe, Malcolm X, James Baldwin
and others because they are not the so called “superstars” of entertainment,
or sports, but youth even today can identify with their struggles for identity,
immersion in a diverse community and even address the colonialism
aspects of education, economics, religion and cultural heritage.
The only way for Black youth to be influenced is to read and contribute
by writing their stories and finding associations and connections with
readers of today and the past. Part III

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