Be Like Mr. Smalls

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While working with a group of 5th graders through our PassportPitch program, I was approached by a student. Let’s call him Josh. He and his team were finalizing a trip proposal for Ghana that they were going to present to an audience of 200 people. Josh asked me a question that I would never forget: “Will I really get to visit Ghana one day?” Without hesitation, I responded, “Yes, if you decide to.”

In that moment I was brought back to my 8th grade social studies class. One day my teacher, Mr. Smalls, told me that I was going to attend an Ivy League college. At the time, I didn’t know what he was talking about. During those days, my focus was on the prospect of playing basketball in high school and hanging out with my friends. College wasn’t necessarily on my radar. But who would have thought that 8 years later, I would be graduating from Cornell University? Somehow, Mr. Smalls knew that if he planted the seed in my mind, it would happen. I did manage to catch up with Mr. Smalls to say thank you.

One day Josh and I will catch up. He will tell me about his experience working as a U.S. Ambassador to Ghana. He will tell me that the very solutions that he and his team created as 5th graders have been put into motion. He will say that as a 5th grader, he decided to make his dreams become a reality.

As educators, parents and mentors of young children, we have the ability to influence and mold the young minds of today. I believe that positive affirmations are the starting blocks for creating the global leaders of tomorrow: doctors, lawyers, CEOs, teachers and engineers. The world that we live in today is complicated and filled with obstacles that prevent our students from succeeding. That’s why it is important that we decide to be more like Mr. Smalls. Our words are powerful. Our influence is great.

Stay Educated. Stay Empowered. Stay WellTraveled.