For those of you who may not be familiar with the meaning of “Legacy”, here’s a simple explanation. If you are considered a “Legacy” within your organization, it means you have joined the same organization as your fore-mothers and fore-fathers. You wear your letters with pride knowing your parents, your grandparents and your great grandparents all belong to the same organization. But, one thing I’ve come to acknowledge and embrace is our power to create our own legacy without the family lineage. We create legacies by leaving legendary impacts on the lives around us. In turn, those pupils then pass down the positivity we instill in them to other people, thus creating a legacy of our own. The people who do this the absolute most are our educators.
As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to an end, I didn’t want this week to go by without paying homage to the awesome members of Greek Letter Organizations who exhibit their fraternity’s and sorority’s morals and principals on a daily basis inside the classroom. The love, guidance, support and affirmation you provide to your students on a daily basis can’t be measured. Those kids…they paid attention and they appreciate you. Academics isn’t the only thing that we’ve learned from you. Here are some life changing gems I have learned to treasure from some (but not limited to) of my favorite educators.
Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Alone – Mrs. Judge, 3rd Grade Teacher, Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated
I don’t know if she knows this, but Ms. Judge taught me how to stand courageously in any situation.
I’ve never been a naturally “smart” kid. Incredibly creative, yes. Smart, no. I had to work for my intelligence. With that being said, I remember this one specific time when I was studying for my elementary Spelling Bee. I studied for hours rehearsing and memorizing how to spell a Bible worth of vocabulary words. The moment the big day came, I was ready. When the announcer called my name, a calm came over me as I walked towards the front center stage. A man slowly pronounced the word “backpack.” I didn’t need for him to use it in a sentence. I didn’t need a definition. I HAD this. After pausing for a moment, my mouth slowly recited the following: “p-a-c-k-b-a-c-k …backpack.” I stood, waiting for an applause. Instead, I was met with an awkward silence followed by the man asking me to return to my seat. At that moment, I felt my ears getting hot, my face was flustered and I could feel the tears forming in the ducts of my eyes. That was until I heard Mrs. Judge’s single slow clap permeate through the whole cafeteria. At that moment, the feeling of embarrassment left me and it’s never come back since.
During much of my elementary and middle school years, I was bullied in ways that are too exhausting to explain. Those people tried to use “my embarrassing” faults against me as a way to tear me down. But it didn’t work. I stood firm. I remained true to myself and remained strong no matter what they threw at me, even if it meant being alone. All because of that solo applause of affirmation. Since then, although I have had SEVERAL embarrassing moments and identified a plethora of my faults, I stand in my truth, alone and unapologetically. Thank you Mrs. Judge.
Diligently Invest in Others – Dr. Danny Hoey, college friend and professor, Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated
During college, I practically lived in UNT’s Multicultural Center , aka the MCC. The MCC was a place for my friends to come and get homework done, engage in stimulating conversations, and partake in ratchet fun from time to time. When I wasn’t in the MCC, I was somewhere with my boyfriend boo-ed up. During one of our regular study nights, I began to notice that my boyfriend was struggling in his English class. Whether it was thinking of a thesis, technical writing or just the act of writing in general, it always made him irritated and defeated. I suggested going to the writing lab but he claimed it didn’t help. I suggested he talk to his professor and he went off on how his professor was a hovering, over-achieving, smart ass that stayed on his case for no apparent reason. He kept insisting the professor picked on him because he was Black. After much constructive nagging, I convinced him to sit down with his smart ass professor and get this English class figured out. As the semester moved along, steadily the complaints turned into praises and his low grades found their way to higher tiers.
One day, my boyfriend rushed into the MCC to tell me about a good grade he had received. I was talking to my friend Danny. I befriended Danny by hanging out in the MCC 24/7. Danny was working on finishing his Doctorate degree as well as teaching an English class. When my boyfriend saw us talking, he hesitantly said hi to Danny but referred to him as Professor Hoey. At that moment, I realized, my friend was the smart ass that was teaching my boyfriend. I had no clue before. But what I did know was that the time, effort, patience, confidence, support and love Danny bestowed upon him were very much needed. My boyfriend had transformed into a more self-assured man with Danny’s guidance. This confidence bleed into other areas that helped him mature academically, socially, emotionally and romantically when it came to our relationship. This smart ass eventually became one of my boyfriend’s most significant mentors during college. I’ll never forget the feeling of growing accomplishment my boyfriend felt as the semester progressed. He never gave up on him when everyone else wrote him off. That gave me a renewed faith in mentorship, leadership, stewardship and humanity in general. I am forever grateful for that Dr. Danny Hoey. Thank you.
Lead with Resilient Love – Hannah Covington – My Prophyte, Teacher, Member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated
Hannah is one of the most uplifting, warm-spirited, and inspiring people to ever walk this earth. Her kind heart allows her to lead with love whenever she can. This was exactly what I witnessed my first year in Zeta.
She had the daunting task of filling the shoes of a great chapter basilus and Hannah aimed to make her proud. In addition to taking on the duties of being Chapter President, she also had to deal with a group of very strong willed women within our chapter, hold office in an honor society, and teach in the afternoon to complete her graduation requirements. During tough decisions, discussions and personal trials, Hannah lead our chapter very meticulously. She always tried to consider the feelings of others as well as what was beneficial for the chapter. She handled complicated matters with grace and remained “finer” under fire. Hannah was assertive when she needed to be, but never mistook assertiveness for aggression. In all that she did, Hannah truly resembled a “Finer” woman in her actions. I admired that and I continue to demonstrate that in my own acts of leadership. It hasn’t failed me yet. Thank you Hannah Banana for teaching me that.
Be Mindful & Act on People’s Needs – Peachel Dawkins, Frat Brother, College Friend, Teacher, Member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated
Every high school senior going to college hopes that his or her first year on campus will be an epic one. My freshman year of college was…interesting to say the least. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I had my fair share of live parties, relationship drama, fear of flunking anxiety, and student organization participation as much as the next kid. But, I didn’t count on having a spiritual awakening. I was brought up with a spiritual upbringing. Naturally, when I arrived on campus, I looked for a church or Christian organization to call home. I scouted different Bible studies for mid-week nourishment, had impromptu sermons with my friends when we spoke about God, and found myself singing in two choirs that year. I love the God I serve and I’d do anything to help push His mission forward.
That included helping my room mate start up her own Bible Study. I felt honored that my roomie asked me to help her build and brand her dorm ministry. We spread the word, passed out flyers, made banners, took little field trips… I mean it was fun. But one day, I think everything got a little too much for her. The night before, she woke me up in the middle of the night telling me I had to get up and help her spread the gospel. Yall it was 3am. 3-A-M. I wasn’t about to sacrifice my sleep for this impromptu prayer warrior alert! God does everything decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40) and this didn’t make any sense. I went back to bed. The next day, I left for class and came back for my regular afternoon nap. When I arrived, an ambulance was in the front yard, people were crowded around the door, policemen where surrounding the premises and whispers were seeping deep into the air. I walked in the building and EVERYONE…AND I MEAN EVERYONE stared at me. As I walked further into the building, I heard eerie, high pitch and torturous wailing coming from the study room. Someone finally made their way over to tell me that it was my room mate and she was having a nervous breakdown. I think she was having a spiritual attack. Matter fact, I know it was. The atmosphere was super thick with a spirit so malicious, I could not stay.
Now my roommate had a group of friends I had gradually grown to know, one of being Peachel. He immediately came over and asked did I need help with anything. I told him I wanted to get my stuff out my room and move as soon as possible. For those of you who don’t understand spiritual warfare, we will discuss the meaning of my swiftness later. Peachel and his friend Jay, quickly helped me pack up my things, clean my area and pray over my room before I left. I mean…we were in and out within 10 minutes. What I appreciate the most about Peachel and Jay was that they identified my need for help before I even asked. At the time I was growing increasingly scared and clueless about my next move. And when I told the guys the reason why I had to leave, I wasn’t called foolish. I wasn’t called selfish. I didn’t receive a guilt trip. They just saw what needed to be done and moved. This instantly reminded me of Philippians 2:4 : Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others. And they did just that. Later that day I realized he was wearing a Phi Beta Sigma shirt. His friend Jay was a Sigma too, but he wasn’t wearing para. That defining moment encouraged me to start looking into the Blue and White family. I had run into their sorors before and they had always been so nice to me. But for Frat to help me without question at a crucial time where my spiritual being was shaken, this was something I will cherish for life.
This moment taught me to not only be emotionally and mentally aware of other’s needs, but to also become spiritually in tune with the needs of others. And when I identify that need, if I can help, do so. Offer a scripture. Lift them up in prayer. Spend time with them. Send materials or a word that will uplift their spirit. Being a spiritual supporter is a great way to show God’s trans-formative love to others. And Peaches, I’m sure you didn’t expect or intend to teach me that, but I am forever grateful that you did. I can just imagine what you’ve done for your students.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week & Month to all the educators out there. May your influence be a blessing and may it come back to you 10 fold through the pupils you so dearly impact. We love you. We appreciate you. And we honor you.