Thanks to one of my professional peers, I attended the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) event today. It was all about #ConvosOnEC or better yet, early childhood education. The renown Geoffrey Canada was the keynote speaker. He is known around the world as a thought leader and advocate for educational reform; but most importantly, he is known for his pioneering work helping children and families with the Harlem Children’s Zone.You may know him from the documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” where he describes his journey as an educator and his surprise when he realizes upon entering adulthood that Superman is a fictional character and that no one is powerful enough to save us all.

Below is a list of 8 nuggets of knowledge that Canada dropped on us today. I hope these wise words inspire you as much as they have me.

  1. Don’t let the first 6 “no’s” stop you. If you haven’t heard “No,” you are not asking for enough.
  2. When thinking about what we can do for our kids, think big! Don’t limit your thinking to the amount of money we think we can raise.
  3. Poverty is an equal opportunity destroyer of families. It transcends generations-great grand parents, grand parents, parents, children, grand children, etc.
  4. In terms of parent engagement, it is not about you or your values as an educator; it is what the parents’ value that will get them there to engage.
  5. The toughest schools need the best teachers.
  6. Like hair dressers who can’t do hair should find another career, so should teachers who can’t teach. They should also find another career.
  7. Have one expectation and one expectation only for kids and that is to go to college.
  8. Give kids a range of opportunities, experience, and exposure. Think outside of the box!

Canada’s wisdom is foundation of the success of the Promise Academy, which is a national school model for breaking the cycle of poverty. He ended his speech with his poem, “Don’t Blame Me.” As you watch and listen to the video below, let his wise words resonate with you.