Person of the Month

The Revolutionary Paideia November 2011 Person of the Month: Melvin Parker, III

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects an individual who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this site.  In order to be selected to be a Person of the Month or Person of the Year by Revolutionary Paideia, an individual, widely known or little known, has to have and/or is making a significant contribution to humankind.  Although Revolutionary Paideia has selected well-known individuals for the Person of the Month and Person of the Year, a solemn commitment is made to honoring people who do extraordinary things but receive little to no acclaim.  The person who has been selected for the Revolutionary Paideia November 2011 Person of the Month is Melvin Parker, III.

Melvin Parker, III is a Georgia educator and counselor who works at Alcovy High School in Covington, Georgia.  Melvin has been an educator and counselor for over five years at Alcovy High School.  Mr. Parker has a serious interest in ameliorating the educational experiences and outcomes of all students, especially disadvantaged Black male students.  Extensive empirical research has evinced that Black male students at all levels of the educational pipeline academically underperform all of their peers.

From Mr. Parker’s interactions with students considered “at-risk,” and who were constantly being referred to him by administrators to develop plan of actions because of disciplinary problems, he developed an idea to construct The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club at Alcovy High School.  The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club is an organization focused on improving the behavior, academic achievement, social skills, life skills, professionalism, and potential for career success of “at-risk” male students at Alcovy High School.  Many Black male students are a part of The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club.  The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club is in its second year of existence.  This organization is an important intervention in helping at-risk male students move from a path that can lead them into serious trouble to a pipeline of career success.  Melvin is excited about the early success of the organization and looks forward to the future growth of the organization.  He has thoroughly enjoyed making a notable difference in the lives of the students he leads in this organization.

Through The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club, Mr. Parker is able to afford these young Black males an opportunity to listen to various motivational speakers, participate in sundry educational projects, go on engaging field trips, receive individual and group assistance with academic work, and much more.  On Wednesdays, students who are members of The Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club have to wear dress shirts, dress pants, and ties to school for the entire school day.  This is vital in their understanding of professionalism and in their efforts to enter the workforce or college prepared to be young professionals.

Mr. Parker’s true commitment to improving the educational experiences and outcomes of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline is also reflected in his doctoral work at Northcentral University.  Melvin is a doctoral student in Northcentral University’s doctoral degree program in Exceptional Children (Special Education).  The focus of Mr. Parker’s doctoral dissertation is to find ways to better identify and serve Black male college student-athletes who have learning disabilities.  Melvin has exposed a significant gap in the published research with his work in this area of research.  His research will prove to enhance the educational experiences and outcomes of Black male college student-athletes.  At Alcovy High School, he serves as Assistant Head Track & Field Coach.  His coaching experience is, of course, giving him valuable insights for his doctoral dissertation work.

Melvin earned his master’s degree from Troy University in Post-Secondary Education with a concentration in Psychology.  He graduated with honors from Troy University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology.  Mr. Parker volunteers actively for various charitable organizations and causes.

It is with great pleasure to name a deserving man like Melvin Parker, III as The Revolutionary Paideia November 2011 Person of the Month.  Melvin, continue to do the awesome work you’re doing, and Revolutionary Paideia wants you to know that the things you’re doing are not going unnoticed. Congratulations, Melvin Parker, III!

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia October 2011 Person of the Month: Tony La Russa

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia recognizes one person who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this site.  Tony La Russa, the Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, has been selected as the Revolutionary Paideia October 2011 Person of the Month.  Under the great leadership of Tony La Russa, the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series.  At no point in the season was this team considered to be the favorites to win the World Series.  For many baseball fans, they found it would be difficult for the St. Louis Cardinals to even make the playoffs.  Indeed, it was a challenge for the Cardinals to make the playoffs but they did.  Although much of the credit will go to the players, and the players are well-deserving of much of the credit for winning the World Series, of course, the significant role Tony La Russa played in helping the team to achieve victory in the World Series should not be overlooked.  Without the excellent managing of the pitching staff and the batting lineups throughout the regular season and World Series, the Cardinals would not have even had an opportunity to win the World Series.

Tony La Russa is the only Major League Baseball (MLB) Manager to retire after winning a World Series.  More people, however, need to learn how to stop doing the great things they do while they are still great at doing them.  One of the best times to stop doing what you have been doing for so long is when you’re at your greatest at what you are doing.  Don’t wait until you become horrible at what you do before you stop doing it.

Tony La Russa has been a MLB Manager for well over 30 seasons.  He has won three World Series as a MLB Manager.  He revolutionized the use of the closing pitcher (“the closer”).  La Russa should be applauded for his tremendous accomplishments and commitment to excellence for well over 30 seasons in MLB.

For those of us who love MLB, we can appreciate watching Tony La Russa manage his teams like no other Manager has been able to do.  What has really been amazing about his success with the St. Louis Cardinals is his team has never been considered the best team in MLB.  However, he has led the St. Louis Cardinals to two World Championships.

The St. Louis Cardinals will have a difficult time replacing Tony La Russa.  True baseball fans will miss him.  Without question, Tony La Russa provided us with a positive example of how to be a successful MLB Manager and how to do it with class.

It is with great pleasure to name Tony La Russa the Revolutionary Paideia October 2011 Person of the Month.

Best wishes!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia May 2011 Person of the Month: Dirk Nowitzki

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia honors a person who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this site. Every person selected to be the Person of the Month has to have some significant part of him or her that is truly different in a substantive way. Throughout the 2011 National Basketball Association (NBA) Playoffs, Dirk Nowitzki has proven himself to be a player worthy of being selected as one who exemplifies the founding spirit of this site.

Dirk simply does things his own way. His unorthodox style of play often leaves people amazed at how he can perform so well when he is breaking nearly all of the traditional fundamentals of basketball taught by coaches at all levels. When shooting, Nowitzki jumps off of the wrong foot. He shoots off-balanced when he does not even have to shoot off-balanced. Dirk’s best shooting is done when he’s shooting off-balanced. When Dirk is driving to the basket, he’s off-balanced and looks like he has no idea what he’s going to once he actually gets to the basket. Unfortunately, for his opponents, he knows exactly what he’s going to do when he gets to the basket: score.

There’s no one in the NBA who can successfully defend Dirk Nowitzki—this is a reality that puts him in a class with only a small group of elites.  In the 2011 NBA Playoffs, Nowitzki has been defended well by some players, but their good defense didn’t have any impact on his ability to score. Very good NBA players in the 2011 NBA Playoffs who played against him have said that he hits shots that are simply “deflating.”

Dirk Nowitzki has performed brilliantly in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. He has led his team from seemingly impossible deficits to overcome against the Portland Trailblazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the two-time defending NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. Dirk led his team to sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers, which is something that he should receive great praise for being able to accomplish.

Dirk has improved his toughness and defense this year, especially in the playoffs. He has often been criticized for being “soft,” even I have vociferously criticized him for being “soft.” Throughout the playoffs, Dirk has proven to be a man who can evince the necessary toughness to win. It has recently been reported that he sustained an injury to his non-shooting hand in last night’s defeat to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, so it will be interesting to see how he responds to this injury. He believes that the injury will not impact his performance.

No matter what happens in the 2011 NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki’s outstanding play deserves to receive some serious recognition. He is unequivocally the best international player ever to play in the NBA. Dirk has accomplished such greatness as an NBA player by simply being Dirk. He has not allowed anyone to change the way he plays and this decision has paid lucrative dividends for him.

It is my pleasure to name Dirk Nowitzki the Revolutionary Paideia May 2011 Person of the Month. Congrats, Dirk!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month: Stephen C. Newbold, Jr.

Each month, one person is honored here at Revolutionary Paideia who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this site. The person is bestowed the award of “The Revolutionary Paideia Person of the Month.” To receive this award, you must make a significant difference in people’s lives. You must be a person who matters and who’s unafraid to simply be yourself. Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. has been selected as The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month.

At Revolutionary Paideia, it’s argued that people who are making a difference are not always the people we see and hear about in national media. Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. is one of those individuals making a significant difference in the lives of children, but his great work goes without a moment of national notoriety. Mr. Newbold is not looking for notoriety either. He has a deep passion for education, children, and the arts that goes beyond any vain longings for national attention.

While Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. knew that he would be featured on Revolutionary Paideia, he did not know that he would be named Person of the Month. I normally don’t contact the people who are going to be named Person of the Month, but I wanted to do things a little different this month by interviewing the awardee. I’ve had the great fortune to follow Stephen’s work for several years now, and I’m fascinated by the quality and imaginative artwork he produces, his passion for teaching, and love of children, especially his love of disadvantaged children. I was tremendously proud to see that a couple of Mr. Newbold’s students recently came in first place for a digital photography contest. You could see how his creative influence and zeal for the arts resonated and shined through the vivid, beautiful, and well-executed images they captured. The images captured tell stories of their own.

Let’s get to know Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. a little better through the interview I had with him:

1. Where did you receive your undergraduate degrees and in what degree programs?

I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 2005 from Florida International University. I also resumed my studies and completed a second Bachelor of Arts in the History and Criticism of Art at The Florida State University, which is the school I started my undergraduate career in 2001 and later transferred.

2. In what city do you teach and what grade level(s)?

I current teach Integrated Art to Pre-K – 6th grade students in Prince George’s County, Maryland, which is located in the DC Metropolitan area.

 3. Why did you decide to pursue a career in Education?

After completing undergrad in 2006, I was faced with the decision of extending my education or entering the workforce in order to support myself.

 4. What are your greatest challenges as an educator?

As an educator in the inner city for at-risk youth, it is challenging to service them when they are coming from a bad home situation. These children have a hard time understanding why math, science, history, let alone—art—is important when they didn’t eat dinner last night or there is no electricity in their homes. Another challenge is my age. I started teaching high school students at the age of 24. Some of the students assumed that I wasn’t an authority figure until I opened my mouth.

5. What are some of your successes as an educator?

In my first year of teaching, I had minimal skills as an educator. I was essentially learning from experience. My majors in Political Science and Art History made me “highly qualified” to teach social sciences grades 6th – 12th.  As I worked with the students, I was being educated in the field as a teacher while simultaneously being a student. In less than one school year, I received my Florida Professional Teaching certificate, which was a huge accomplishment for me. Four years later, I was certified to teach Pre-K – 12th grade students in two states. My prized accomplishment originated in my first year of teaching at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, the school in which I attended.

Teaching American History to juniors was sometimes a challenge, especially when these kids didn’t turn in their homework. My students were assigned a midterm history assignment. The project was due in sections; this particular day, section one was due. Needless to say, not even one student had his or her assignment. In complete awe and disappointment, I decided enough was enough; I was taking control of this situation. I asked everyone to stand up; reluctant and a little nervous they all stood up. GET OUT! Everyone get out of my classroom. You didn’t come here to learn and you won’t waste another minute of my time, get out. I had them lined up along the lockers outside of my classroom. I explained that there is no need for us to sit in a classroom if they were not here to learn.

My Principal happened to be passing by, well I doubt it was a coincidence because a surveillance camera was pointed right towards us. He gave me a look of approval, as if he was saying carry-on. I smiled on the inside; however, I was still disappointed in my kids. We stood in the hall for nearly the entire block when my students apologized and said they were ready to work.

After 4 years of teaching, I think back to that moment and realized that was the day I evolved into an educator and not just some teacher. I was able to allow my students to rise up to my expectations and surpass them.

 6. Why is Art education important?

Art education is extremely important on the elementary level because it gives a child an opportunity to explore and problem solve. Early childhood instructors teach students to color inside the lines and to keep their area neat and clean. I, on the other hand, encourage my students to color outside of the lines and, more importantly, to create their own lines. Rules, regulations and test scores create a non-expressive environment that the arts allow a healthy escape from.

 7. What community/volunteer service projects have you been involved in?

I work for the K.I.D.S. After School Program, Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region in partnership with Center City Consortium, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers and DC Public Schools, an exciting after school program in Ward 7 at The Ft. Dupont Ice Arena. I teach photography to at-risk youth in South East. I give them the opportunity to view the world through a view finder and aperture. Each day includes a healthy snack, recreation time, homework and tutoring assistance, and a one-hour thematic component designed to address the Center City Consortium power standards as well as the DC Public School benchmarks. Students continue to explore subject matter and topics covered in the regular school day through hands-on exploratory methods.

8. Do you plan to return to graduate or professional school in the future? If so, do you have any specific degree programs in mind? Any specific schools in mind?

I have been looking into some master’s degree programs in the DC Metropolitan area, but my ultimate goal is to attend law school. It seems like I’ve been putting it off because Education is my calling but it’s amazing how a person, an educator, trains children and young adults to realize their potential. However, what would become of me if I didn’t realize my own?

9. Who have been the most influential individuals in your life?

There have been many people to come in and out of my life over time. The nuggets of influence retained range from a look of admiration, a laugh from a joke I made or even rejection and disappointment. All of these lessons gave me the drive to keep moving forward. My college Spanish professor once said to me, “If you have a problem that you can solve….why worry and if you have a problem you can’t solve……why worry?” So simple, yet profound.  I’ve been moving through this life solving what I can and accepting things out of my control.

10. Is there anything that you would like to add that the aforementioned queries have not allowed you to say?

In collaboration with my students, I created an anti-bullying video and a life-size book cover illustration this school year. I have a photography and graphic arts business called NEW-Bold Imaging. My class motto is “Art is a process”—similar to my life: We have to work through our mistakes until they are transformed into masterpieces.

I would like to thank Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. for taking time out of his busy schedule to engage in an interview with me. As you can see, Mr. Newbold has his hands literally and metaphorically full, so I’m truly grateful for the time he gave to me for this interview. I would like to applaud Stephen for his great work and for helping to make a tremendous difference in the lives of disadvantaged students. You are truly a great man! I’m such a fan of your work. You inspire me to do better in all that I do.

It is with great pleasure that I name Stephen C. Newbold, Jr. The Revolutionary Paideia April 2011 Person of the Month. Keep up the very fine work!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia February 2011 Person of the Month: Brandon M. Frame

Each month, one person is selected as the Revolutionary Paideia Person of the Month. The person must embody the positive spirit of “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” people that founded this blog. When one considers that Black males face great attacks in virtually all spaces of life, it takes tremendous courage for one to actively fight against the demonization of Black males with nothing but positivity as a response. It takes a special person to refuse to allow the Black male’s image to be commodified, reified, and exploited. While Black men certainly have many haters out there, Brandon M. Frame is a Black man who is making a significant difference in America by evincing the positive contributions that Black males have made and make to America.

Brandon M. Frame, a graduate of Morehouse College, is a shining example of the great talent and great leaders that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have produced from their provenances to the present. He is the purveyor, Founder, and “Chief Visionary Officer” of The Black Man Can at http://theblackmancan.org/. He uses The Black Man Can as a vehicle to show the world the greatness of Black males. Black males across the nation and world are doing spectacular things and Brandon’s site presents us with constant examples of exceptional Black males. It’s important to have a site like his because some racist people try to promulgate and propagate lies about all Black males doing nothing but negative things. On many blogs, there’s so much foolish content on them. Revolutionary Paideia is tremendously pleased to see Brandon Frame use his blog to advance Black males in such a powerful way.

Brandon has a serious commitment to ameliorating academic achievement, especially the academic achievement of Black males. Extensive empirical research has evinced that Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline. Revolutionary Paideia is proud to see Brandon traveling across the country conducting workshops and other things to improve Black male academic achievement. Mr. Frame is a phenomenal educator. He and many others discovered just how talented of an educator he is while teaching at The Fessenden School.

The Black Man Can at http://theblackmancan.org is an endorsed and featured site of Revolutionary Paideia. Revolutionary Paideia is thankful for the indefatigable work that Brandon Frame does to offer solutions to the problems and challenges that Black males across the nation face. Read more about Brandon M. Frame here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5561448/interview_with_brandon_m_frame_the.html?cat=48.

It is with great pleasure that Revolutionary Paideia names Brandon M. Frame as The Revolutionary Paideia February 2011 Person of the Month. Congratulations!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia January 2011 Person of the Month: Kelley Williams-Bolar

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects a person who “unsettles, unnerves, and unhouses” us in meaningful and positive ways. Kelley Williams-Bolar has been selected as The Revolutionary Paideia January 2011 Person of the Month. She is a Black mother who was sentenced to 10 days in jail and two years of probation in Ohio for sending her children to a school district that they supposedly did not live in. This woman is a heroine! She refused to allow her children to stay trapped in a failing school district. She was not willing to allow her children to continue to be victimized by egregiously underfunded schools and by serious educational inequities. Kelley Williams-Bolar was not simply willing to sit back and complain like many other people about social and educational inequities—she went out and attempted to create the change that she wanted to see. Many timorous and comfortable Americans can learn from the great example of Williams-Bolar. This woman is not a criminal—she’s a heroine.

One of the great promises of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was to provide all students with educational equity. Unfortunately, many Black students are still in schools that are really not any better than those Black students were situated in during Jim Crow. Conservatives, liberals, and moderates should all be in the business of championing true educational equity for all students. One of the best ways to continue to progress America towards its optimal greatness is to ensure that all students have access to a truly quality education. Kelley Williams-Bolar saw that there was a school district available that could offer her children a quality education, and she resolved that she was going to give her children access to schools that can truly educate them. If this means that this woman should be considered a “criminal,” then we need more “criminals.”

I want to applaud Williams-Bolar for having the courage to do what it took to give her children the best education possible.

Governor John Kasich, I like you very much but I want you to pardon this woman.

It is my pleasure to name Kelley Williams-Bolar as The Revolutionary Paideia January 2011 Person of the Month.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Revolutionary Paideia December 2010 Person of the Month: Michael Vick

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects one person who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this blog. In life, we all make mistakes and we will always make mistakes as long as we live. When we make mistakes, we have to learn from them and recover from those mistakes better than ever. Michael Vick, the former quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons and current quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, has learned from his mistakes and has a truly powerful comeback success story. Michael Vick went to prison and served his time for dog fighting. Since he has been released from prison for dog fighting, he has worked with animal rights groups and has educated young children about the importance of treating animals properly, drawing from the lessons of his own experiences. Michael Vick has not allowed his past mistakes to keep him from being a successful quarterback in the National Football League (NFL).

Although the NFL will probably award the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award to Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots, because he has a better team record, what Michael Vick has been able to accomplish is certainly more impressive than what Brady has done. Michael Vick is the most exciting player in the league and makes people, even those who are not Eagles fans, want to see him play. For those who questioned whether Michael Vick could ever be a good pocket-passer, he has surpassed those expectations. Vick is making all of his haters look stupid.

For those who refuse to give Michael Vick a chance to redeem himself, I find people like you to be simply ignorant. What if people never gave you a chance to redeem yourself after the many mistakes you have made? I bet you would be very unhappy about that.

I am tremendously proud of what Michael Vick has been able to accomplish this year. He has had to combat great criticism and pressures, but this negativity has not stopped Vick from being the most electrifying player in the NFL. Vick serves an example for all people who have made serious mistakes that you can come back better than ever from those mistakes if you would only give yourself the chance. Some people want Vick to crawl into a hole and never come back, but I’m glad that he has enough inner strength to not succumb to their hateful desires.

Although I have forgiven the Atlanta Falcons and Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, for how unjustly they treated Michael Vick, I refuse to ever support the Falcons. I know that being from Georgia I should support the Falcons but I cannot bring myself to support an organization that exploited a man like Vick when the going got tough. The organization simply threw him under the bus. I cheer against the Falcons in every game that they play. I do this in honor of Michael Vick. I was so happy to see the Falcons lose at home against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night. I know Vick had to smile wherever he was when the Falcons lost to the Saints (#WhoDat).

It is my pleasure to name Michael Vick The Revolutionary Paideia December 2010 Person of the Month. Revolutionary Paideia encourages Vick to continue to achieve at the highest level even in the face of great hate.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison