My Quest To Teach

October 28, 2014

Taylor Richardson: A Success Story in STEM

Taylors chair

Taylor Richardson: A Success Story in STEM

There are many examples of role models that children can follow.
They range from sports figures, entertainment icons,
movie stars, even Ninja Turtles and Transformers.
What of the real role models that should be celebrated in
academics and intellectualism within the communities and schools
we live and students attend? Why are our scholars put on the
back-burner ignored or treated as a second thought in to many cases?

When mentioning about scholars too many laugh and make
jokes or say athletics are better, these reactions are why
many kids refuse to grow academically, they are taunted and
teased. Scared to celebrate their accomplishments because of
their intellectualism. Often times Black students are called
“wanna be” or “acting white” by their peers or even tragically
by adults in their lives.
This is a travesty for Black students that want to excel and want
to show they are smart, but their peers tease, bully, make fun of
and even beat them up.

This past summer Taylor Richardson a resident of Jacksonville,
Florida and a student in Duval County Public Schools was the
only student to attend and she graduated from SPACE CAMP
at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
A prestigious honor that has academic and career benefits.
Taylor Richardson attended SPACE CAMP at the U.S. Space
& Rocket Center, home of SPACE CAMP and NASA’s official
Visitor Information Center for Marshall Space Flight Center.
The weeklong educational program promotes Science, Technology,
Engineering and Math (STEM); while training students and adults
with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership
and decision-making. These are key elements that STEM &
STEAM careers seek to groom the next generation of skilled
young men and women with the skills that embrace critical thinking,
higher order thinking skills and analytical skills.

Taylor was part of the SPACE CAMP Program which is
specifically designed for trainees who have a passionate interest
in science and aerospace. Taylor spent the week training with a
team that flew simulated Space Shuttle missions to the International
Space Station (ISS). Too many youth in our schools do not even
understand that there is a space station orbiting our planet.
Once aboard the ISS, the crew participated in experiments and
successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or
spacewalk. Taylor and crew returned to earth in time to hear
retired Space Shuttle astronaut Capt. Robert “Hoot” Gibson
speak at their graduation! Taylor upon graduation received
top honors and college credits, already setting the
foundation for higher education even before high school.
Participating in Space Camps and STEAM / STEM programs
are a wonderful way to expose student to new and developing
careers. The new jobs growing in Jacksonville need these skills,
but to many will not be employable or will be un-employable
with skills low in technology abilities, math and those thinking
skills required.

The importance of the ISS can be seen in the experiments,
collaboration and cooperation that is shown through international
partnerships. Taylor and those that attended are learning key
components that will allow them to grow not just in local
educational arenas, but on an international level that too
many students can only dream about. STEM / STEAM / STREAM /
CSTEAM are educational initiatives that schools across the nation
are working to incorporate and engage their students. Taylor is
already participating in these areas and exceeding academic
expectations at her elementary school of Chets Creek.


Taylor is a role model and transforming into a symbol that girls;
girls of color at all educational and economic levels can obtain
their goals with supportive parents, high quality teachers,
community partnerships and setting high expectations for success
as Taylors mother does (Latonya Richardson).

Taylor will also be honored with the opportunity to be on the
School Safety Patrol at her school of Chets Creek Elementary,
this shows schools put forward their academics before looking at color,
nationality, gender and culture. Taylor will inspire other students
at Chets Creek to be their best also and shows how the administration
opens their hearts and minds to building up students like Taylor to show
leadership as a future member of the School Safety Patrol. Diversity
in student body is important to show fairness and forward thinking.

From my previous blog about Taylor her quote, “Space Camp is so
amazing! I’m doing things I don’t think I would get the opportunity
to do if I hadn’t come! I get to interact with other kids who have the
same interests and abilities as me. Best time ever.”
More students should have similar experiences as Taylor has. Just
imagine if more student’s, developed a passion and love for STEM
like Taylor does and provided the opportunity to attend Space Camps
and other technology camps how schools would flourish and
become national leaders in STEAM / STEM. This should create a
urgency to help students like Taylor, they are an investment to build
up schools, to model the academic excellence schools are striving for.

Taylor also participates in JIW – Journey Into Womanhood
Empowerment Resources (
That mentors girls and young women in academics and important social

More than 600,000 trainees have graduated from SPACE CAMP since
its opening in Huntsville in 1982, children and teachers from all
50 states have attended SPACE CAMP. Taylor was the only student
from Jacksonville, Florida thanks to her mother that is determined
to help Taylor reach her goals.

Young ladies and young men are preparing for careers not even
created yet, learning skills that will take them into the 22nd and 23rd
century where technologies seen in STAR WARS, STAR TREK, and
even Transformers will be everyday occurrence. Parents must make
the sacrifices and have the determination as Taylor’s parents to open
doors of opportunity to help their children to earn careers in STEM
and STEAM to be the leaders in tech that cities like Jacksonville will
need to lead in the future.

Additional Resource on STEM / STEAM

STEAM and STEM Influencing Civil Rights
The Importance of STEAM Education


October 22, 2014

Chinua Achebe: Power in Writing and Reading

Chinua Achebe: Power in Writing and Reading

Chinua Achebe a world recognized author, poet, storyteller,
intellectual and role model has shared for years the power
of reading, importance of comprehension and skillfulness of
writing in his works of art.
The art of writing can never be marginized or down played.
Achebe has shared that everyone has a story and must take
the time to tell their stories.
His global influence is in how cultures can relate to the
colonization of their nations by others that seek to destroy
and then re-assimilate others into a world that only recognizes
their perceived domination. Nigeria and other nations of Africa,
which is a continent not a country, has experienced decades
of colonization and forced servitude (slavery) from European

These words expressed in my blog are concerning the importance
of reading, comprehension, writing and sharing knowledge.
As a teacher on the elementary level and in higher education I
see the struggles of youth and young adults that cannot read
proficiently nor comprehend on an intellectual level that allows
for gainful employment and academic success and stability.
Intellectual icons like Achebe and others are great role models to
encourage and engage in the reading process, why comprehension
is vital and how colonization has affected nations globally.

Following the foundation of reading by Nigerian author Chinua
Achebe, “there is value and importance of books.” Libraries are
an important resource for people to help lift them up from social
challenges and emotional/psychological tragedies. Who has not
been inspired by a book, poem or article that engages them
emotionally or psychologically creating a drive and a passion for
learning and changing the world?
In many countries people are not allowed to read and if they are it is
sanctioned by the government. They are told what to read to reinforce
social programming and propaganda. African Americans not too long
ago faced this in the United States as property of slave owners who
benefited from their slaves being unable to read, write and engage
in communication on a large scale.
This still is present in the world even in the 21st century. These
influences have resulted in generations of illiterate people that are
slaves to ignorance. Today people have a choice to learn or remain
in the darkness of ignorance.

Proverb from Nigeria – “Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.”

Listening to Chinua Achebe on many interviews and conferences
on Youtube videos he shares his experiences about the colonization
of Nigeria and Africa. How the educational system programmed and
conditioned the minds of Nigerians and Africans away from their
cultural heritage and cultural unity.
The same happened in the United States with Hispanics, Native
Americans, Africans, and Asians. The cultural relevancy is stripped
away and replaced by ideologies that any other cultures deserve
to serve and is weak and less than the status quo.

Reading and Comprehension
Reading and comprehension are powerful tools to free the mind
and empower it with the free will of thought and exploration. Achebe
exclaims the power of stories and the power of writing. Both allow
the exchange of information that opens doors to broaden the minds
of children and adults.
The story teller or author possess the skills of engagement and
reflective abilities to allow the reader to rationalize and analyze
for themselves. Reading, literacy, comprehension, critical and
higher order thinking are tools the mind needs to make the
appropriate adjustments to information provided.

Writers have a responsibility to share truth and accuracy. There are
always two sides to a story, the truth and the deception. Real writers,
“ambition should be to distinguish between good and bad.” Achebe
What children read shapes their minds, parents should be supportive
and even role models for their children in reading. An important point
especially for African American children is that what they read should
exchange the views that they are “human beings and valuable” as
Achebe states. These view points from Achebe are important because
African Americans and Africans share in the colonization and castration
of their cultures. The connection to each other has purposefully and
strategically been cut, broken, damaged and poisoned. Hearing African
American youth state that Africans live in jungles and huts and eat
monkeys is a testament of brainwashing and propaganda from years
of European influence.

The connections provided and encouraged by reading are real with
building self-esteem and cultural / self respect. There is a global connect
not just with Africa, but with people of color globally. Numerous studies
have shown that children that read and comprehend on grade level or even
slightly below, can increase their levels, they have lower discipline problems
in school, have higher self-esteems, have higher articulation (speaking)
skills, increased vocabulary (access to words and usage) and will analyze
their environment making better decisions.

“A functioning, robust democracy requires a healthy educated, participatory
followership, and an educated, morally grounded leadership.” Chinua Achebe
The range of authors from Baldwin, duBois, Douglas, Woodson, Walker,
Hughes, Dunbar, and others are pivotal in shaping the minds of thousands
through their literary works of the past.
Parents need to have a reading library where they can store, highlight,
incorporate, integrate and infuse reading in their homes. Even if they are
not “good” readers they and their children can teach, mentor, model and
help each other. That is what families do; help each other to grow for the
betterment of the whole not just the individual.

Many youth, teens and young adults have a story to tell about their lives
and their environment. Achebe eloquently has stated before that, writers
have an over powering reason to tell a story and you have information
of a unique story, burning to come out and in the process
consider the whole project worth the trouble.

Nations that seek to be influential in the world can only do so by
having an educated society and leadership, the more educated the
better, as stated by Achebe, “A functioning, robust democracy requires
a healthy educated, participatory followership, and an educated,
morally grounded leadership.” Chinua Achebe

October 14, 2014

HBCU’s Must Inspire Next Generation of Blogger

HBCU’s Must Inspire Next Generation of Bloggers
by William Jackson, Edward Waters College
Educational Technology

The growth of blogging has transitioned beyond the basics of text,
there is now VBlogging, MicroBlogging, Podcasting and a host of
other resources and tools to share diverse and dynamic content.
The importance of writing can never be understated because in the areas of education and
business writing is still crucial to the sharing and disseminating of information.
Writing shows the foundation of intelligence and that intellectualism still matters when engaging
in discussions, no matter face to face or the integration of digital technologies that allow the
distribution of information.

As an instructor teaching Educational Technology at Edward Waters College,
I have always felt that blogging allows a platform to grow and mentor writing
in my students. The challenge is to get my students to see beyond their sites and
expand their digital vision to see the benefits of creating and mastering their
digital footprints that lead to exposure, networking opportunities and
collaboration that can also lead to employment and the start of careers. Content
can make or break an HBCU student’s ability for employment as well as spelling
and grammar errors influence a person’s perception of that student.

Businesses are looking for new talent that has a passion for challenges and diversity;
looking at HBCU”S for professionals. HBCU men and women that can integrate technology
with the human element of thought and creativity have valuable skills. HBCU students
are taught by professionals to be aggressive, confident and prepared. The increase
of conferences shows there is a need for professional development, workshops, seminars
and teaching Marketing/Branding in the 21st century by creating or branding with
knowledge in areas of need.

Blogging, Microblogging, Podcasting Vblogging can aid in the Marketing and Branding of
college and university students especially those that attend HBCU’s. Students need to
attend conferences like:

Blogging While Brown (the premiere blogging conference for bloggers of color and culture),
Florida Blogging and Technology Conference (FLBlogCon educates and empowers bloggers by
teaching best practices for blogging), NicheParent 14 Conference (for digital influencers
and bloggers) and Florida Blogging Conference for Educators where I was honored to present
to educators and students on the engagement of Social Media.

There is even a Florida Writers Conference that provides access to literary influencers and thought leaders.
What better way to show the abilities of students that attend Historically Black College and Universities
than to be a speaker, contributor to magazines, newspapers and even participate in areas that I enjoy
HARO – Help A Reporter Out where you can assist reporters developing stories on local and national issues.
HARO asks for input and recognizes contributors if their works are accepted with citing’s in their blogs,
newspapers and other media. This is an additional way to sharpen skills for HBCU students, volunteer and
gain experience that will lead to high salaries.

Colleges and universities across the nation are teaching the intricate dynamics of writing and applying
writing to integrating with technology. The growth and influence of blogging can be seen in its infusion
in Social Media platforms that are now money makers, business ventures based on content creation.
Social Media has a local impact on the events that happen in communities where individual citizens are
reporters and content creators that keep neighbors informed and engaged.
Blogging allows citywide notification of governmental policies, procedures and changes in budgets that
could affect services to communities. The resources online for bloggers are free:
platforms, tools, websites all are available to help HBCU students start (which is the hardest part)
to create content.

Writing influencers such as Chinua Achebe and Buchi Emecheta have been influential in
my blogging because of the passion they have for their native Nigeria and empowerment
of education and reading. One of the best influences for HBCU students is to find a blogging/writing
mentor, either virtual or in person. It is important to find writers with similar interests and abilities
to model and direct passion to create content.
My other mentors are Malcolm X because of his love for learning, Richard Wright for intellectualism,
Earnest Gaines, James Baldwin, Carter G. Woodson to name a few. Reading is important because content
is based on research and background information that will validate and carry your blog.

Buchi Emecheta

“I believe it is important to speak to your readers in person… to enable people to have a whole
picture of me; I have to both write and speak. I view my role as writer and also as oral communicator.”
These are strong words that can be applied to bloggers. Engagement and communication is important.
Involvement in a community and speaking up is important as well. HBCU students, what is your passion
to blog about to help effect positive and transformational change?

HBCU students must understand the ability to blog will assist in creating career options
when meshed with technology. Taken from – a leading SM / Blogging site:
Social media is the thriving pulse behind the blogosphere. Bloggers and media moguls have
expanded their networks, grown their following and reached readers around the world by
effectively using social media.
Blogging, Vblogging, Microblogging, Podcasting, Ebooks are media that allows HBCU students
create change through intellectualism and developing themselves as a thought leader and influencer.
Choose your words wisely and apply your passions, you will make an impact in the world and be heard.

October 11, 2014

Close the “Gap In The Bookshelf”

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Jackson @ 04:32

Where is the “Gap In The Bookshelf”
by William Jackson, Prof. at Edward Waters College

The importance of reading and writing can never be diminished,
the power of independent thought, imagination and vision is a
powerful piece of personal growth and development.
The memories of personal sacrifices from beatings, torture and even
death has vanished from the minds of Blacks that through the
generations are lead in the wrong direction by and of assimilation
and associations that are literally killing generations of Black youth.

The bookshelf of life is important because Black children need to
learn who they are and where they come from. The importance
of fathers to teach this is so valuable that each generation that does
not have a connection with their fathers is being lost in a world
of assimilation and association that is leading Black children to
places they should not go. Fathers are the Gap in the Bookshelf for
their children. The fill a gap that only a father can do my teaching
and mentoring.

The words of Chinua Achebe ring true in 2014 because he stated,
“adults and children are forgetting the continuity of the generations
remember the past sacrifices so you can grow beyond just surviving.”
Black parents must start to teach their children and their grandchildren
the power of education, this education must come from home first if
Black children are to respect learning and growth and the architects
which are the teachers of schools.
Blacks must understand as was once stated by Achebe that Blacks cannot
put themselves in white’s shoes and live their lives. There will be no
change unless Blacks put themselves in positions to learn and gain
education that allows them to compete even on an uneven playing field.
Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian author that was known and honored as the
foundation of Nigerian literature from his books, poems and diverse
writings. As an educator I see many of the similarities that Blacks have
and are experiencing that have happened in Nigeria, South Africa
and other areas of Africa from colonization and apartied.
Blacks that deny the cultural heritage and acceptance of African
ancestry are destroying their foundation as a people and are slowly
being assimilated into a culture that is still racist and refuses in many
ways to truly accept people of color. Yes there is a Black President, but
look at the attacks he faces from those who do not even honor the position
of President of the United States of America.

Chinua Achege
“Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly designed
by history and by providence to perform.” Chinua Achebe
Black homes should be cradling and setting their homes on a foundation
of reading and writing. Not the accumulation of things that diminish in time
and have no value after several months. These commodities are temporary
and will be used and destroyed or replaced over time by the newest model
that is put on the shelves of stores. Black homes should be filled with books
and Black children as Achebe states “children should be fascinated by books.”
Even Malcolm X as controversial as he still is exclaimed the value of learning,
reading and cultural respect and understanding.

The power of reading allows children to see themselves as human beings and
not the fodder of violence, hopelessness and self-destruction that the media
and entertainment industry project them as. There are two ways that Blacks
can change their direction in life from my opinion; living in this multicultural
society change will only come when Blacks accept education as the foundation
of cultural growth in this society. Sharing the successes of past and current
Blacks and Blacks should sit down with each other first to solve t heir cultural
and community problems. Achebe having lived through colonization and the
fight for independence through wars and upheaval wisely states that
“we should not carry the baggage of race and racism into the 21st century.”

The issue of race and racism is rampant in the Black community itself, it is
being denied and ignored, termed Colorism. These feelings and self destructive
actions must stop because it will continue to destroy Blacks from within,
like a cancer that festers and grows to a point where even surgery will not save
a people. Just as there are in life many types of cancers the same applies to the
ills of Blacks. Blacks must change their thinking on a wide scale, not allowing
jealousy and fear to aid in the growth of cultural hate. Parents in Black
communities must understand that they are the foundation for their Black
children so must examine their foundations and change them in order to help
their children to be better than they are.
Blacks cannot wait for a President to make changes for them, they cannot
wait for the government to make changes and they cannot wait for churches
to make changes. The change must be a priority through the value of learning
and growth. Too many Black children believe they are not important and
feel they are intellectually inferior. One reason is because they lack the
knowledge of past successes of Blacks throughout history. Achebe has stated
in a quote that when people control what you think they control who you are
and what you may become. The entertainment industry, movies, television
programming and other media depict Blacks as second class citizens so
Black youth embrace this way of thinking and transfer it to real live.
Chinua Achebe “…mediocrity destroys the very fabric of a country as surely
as a war — ushering in all sorts of banality, ineptitude, corruption and debauchery,”
and Black parents in this age of technology and learning cannot and can never
accept mediocrity in their children. What story will be told of their lives and their
children, will it be of academic success or societal dependence on welfare, EBT
cards and food handouts?

Achebe states: “Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control,
they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit — in state,
in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever.”
Parents must provide and atmosphere of greatness, high self-esteem and
self worth. Who else can on a daily mission tell their beautiful and intelligent
children that they are important, they are intelligent and can be successful.
As an educator having struggled myself with reading at a young age, I now
embrace books, I try to share the empowerment of learning and the importance
of reading. Parents need to look carefully at the stories – content their children
are reading and exposed too. Encourage literary that ignites a fire to learn
and teach.

Black children’s minds are like blank parchments or blank paper waiting for
the colors, texts and movies that guide their thinking and even influence their
feelings to be placed on the paper of memories. Poverty has and continues to
embrace Black communities, not because there are no jobs, but because Blacks
are not prepared for new jobs in areas like STEAM / STEM Science Technology
Engineering Arts Mathematics.

Assimilation and association cannot be continued because those being assimilated
loose their attempt to be something they are not. Blacks must learn other
cultures cannot put value in their lives or their children’s lives. So Blacks must
empower themselves to grow out of poverty, oppression, political weakness and
economic despair.
Blacks must be able to learn from the society they live in, but cannot afford to lose
their cultural traditions that engage reading, comprehension and learning.

Future astronaut from Jacksonville, Florida
Studying at #SpaceCamp in Alabama…

The power of literature:
Toni Morrison Reads “English and the African Writer” by Chinua Achebe

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