THE TRENTON TIMES
Promoting academic excellence, in the home – speaker urges empowerment via education
By Rose Y. Colon
April 23, 2007
TRENTON – Sometimes looking in the mirror is the best way of holding yourself accountable for your child’s education.
In Trenton, where students often do not get enough attention for their achievements, that message rang true to many parents during a recent motivational speech given at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School.
Speaking about ways black and Latino parents can promote academic excellence at home, renowned motivational speaker and author Baruti K. Kafele had a simple message: “It begins with you.”
“Your attitude has got to be positive,” Kafele, a career educator who is now principal of Newark Tech High School, told parents gathered during a Friday evening workshop at the Kilmer School cafeteria.
The workshop is one of a handful of events that will culminate in a city-wide “Parent Empowerment Summit” set May 19, which is being organized by CHANGE, the Coalition for Hands-on Achievement of Necessary Goals in Education.
The summit aims to promote parental involvement in the city and educate parents about the resources available to them, according to Alma McCloud Salter, organizer for CHANGE.
Salter said she hopes bringing speakers like Kafele to Trenton will motivate parents and “empower children.”
Kafele, who penned “A Black Parent’s Handbook to Educating Your Children (Outside of the Classroom),” used a slide show and a mirror as tools to teach nearly 30 parents about their role in their children’s education.
“I challenge some of you to look in the mirror and tell me who you see, what you stand for,” Kafele said, prompting a handful of parents to volunteer for the exercise
City resident Casper Poole, who spent the last decade of his life in and out of prison, was the first to accept the challenge of looking into the hand mirror.
“I see a changed man, someone who’s going to be there,” the 38-year-old said while holding his 4-year-old son Anthony in his arms.
Poole said he was rarely present in the lives of his two other children because he spent most of his time in jail. “I don’t want my son to be in gangs, selling drugs and getting incarcerated. Now, I want to do things right,” he said, garnering applause from the audience.
Kafele, who has hosted parent workshops and motivational seminars for 15 years, told parents their children need to feel empowered through education.
“Telling them `you need to go to school because you’ll get a better job isn’t gonna cut it. They need to know education means power,” he said, adding that many black and Latino children are not educated about their own cultural identity and heritage.
City resident Amini K. Sababu said she was truly inspired by Kafele’s words because he was speaking the truth about society.
When asked if she will be attending the parent summit next month, Sababu said, “of course!”