By Peter Iyayi - Scholars Voice - Peter is a 10th grade Eagle Academy Newark scholar.
One incredibly "green" teacher at Eagle Academy Newark
Interview with David Banks, CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation
Newark, NJ - Last month, David Banks, the President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation visited the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Newark. He spent the morning speaking with and inspiring the teachers and staff of Eagle Newark. After his workshop I had a chance to briefly sit down and have a conversation with him. Thank you for your time and wisdom Mr. Banks!
In the your bestselling book SOAR, you wrote about how your brother found it hard to get better grades. There are several young men here at Eagle Newark that find themselves in that situation. I just wanted to know how can you, and the Eagle Academy, help them?
“I feel like the one of the best things we can do is invite some of the young men that have some graduated from our Eagle Academies in New York and moved on to college and beyond, to come to Eagle Newark and speak with you and your fellow Eagle brothers. Especially those who struggled, but they figured it out in the end. I would like to organize some of those guys, to come together to talk to the young men, who are maybe still trying to figure it out, not just for one day, but to make real connections, exchange numbers. Basically create a support system, a family of young men that they can talk with when they need help the most.
We can absolutely make that happen!”
What do you think are the main challenges of young men here in Newark?
I'm not really sure, but it could be a tough neighborhood, sometimes maybe issues of violence, so maybe they are feeling certain kind of pressures from outside that are tough to deal with. Or maybe it's being in a shared space with another school, where we don't have the freedom to do some of the things that our model requires. It could also be that a lot of young men are growing up without their fathers, it is hard growing up like that, not having a responsible male figure to look up to. But my message has always been to keep pushing and keep working hard, because you can absolutely change those situations for yourself if you try.
Why did you think it was important to start a school here in Newark?
(New Jersey Senator) Cory Booker was the Mayor of the City of Newark at the time, and he asked us to consider coming here and opening a school. We also worked with Rev. David Jefferson Sr., Pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in the city, to assist us in getting the school started. Because of the challenges, so many young men not graduating from high school, not fulfilling their potential, and we wanted to make a difference. Another thing that contributed was the fact that Newark was close enough for me to just drive here.
What is your definition of a failure?
My definition of a failure are people who give up. To me as long as you are fighting and are trying and have still not gotten to where you want to be, your not a failure. Failure only happens when you stop trying.
Where do you see Eagle in 10 years?
I don't think we're going to have more Eagle academies than we have now, I feel like we would be moving in a robust way, like each one of our schools would have grown to full capacity. A lot of things are going to be solidly in place. But I feel in ten years from now, Eagle will be something very significant.
Find out more about David Banks and the Eagle Academy Foundation here.
The Bridge Golf Foundation comes to Eagle Newark
Newark, NJ January 24 - Last week Eagle Academy took the next step in launching the partnership with The Bridge Golf Foundation Select Eagle Academy Newark participated in Golf workshops during their gym classes. All workshops were facilitated by the Bridge Golf Team led by Bridge Golf Teaching Professional Randy Taylor. We had a chance to interview Mr. Taylor and ask him a few questions about golf...
When did you start playing golf?
I started playing golf when I was 12, at a youth center in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I used to watch the local pro play a lot.
Why do you teach golf?
The local pro in my city, George Heslin, used to teach golf to some of the kids there, and I saw how much of a difference he made with those kids. I admired him. After seeing the difference he made I wanted to do the same.
What motivated you to come to Newark?
I started playing in an urban community, and seeing the difference that the sport made with some of the kids I decided to make a difference in a city just like the one I. started in. I want to show these kids that there are other important and entertaining games outside of basketball.
And I think Newark was the right choice.
What was your dream as a golfer?
Pretty much to be world recognized as one of the best golf teachers.
Who inspired you to play golf?
Tiger Woods inspired me to play golf, i used to watch him at my youth center, he is basically my golf version of Michael Jordan. I started watching him when he was a young pro.
Newark, NJ January 17 - The Eagle Academy for Young Men of Newark Spotlight Teacher of the Month is Ms. Tracy Randolph. We had an opportunity to speak with her about this honor...
How long have you been teaching?.
This is my 26th year as a teacher
What motivates you?.
Seeing that you're making a difference in someone's life. Also, knowing there are challenges and at the end we will become successful. It's the small steps that matter.
Do you have anything you tell yourself when times get hard?.
I usually remind myself to be patient and remain flexible.
What do you enjoy about Eagle Newark?.
The relationship I have with the Eagle scholars.
Have you had second thoughts about being Eagle?
Yes, sometimes it's because of the lack of respect in some of the kids. Even when you wake up and take a long times to get there for them they remain disrespectful. But I always remain flexible and it pays off.
How does it feel to be known as teacher of the month?.
It's a nice thing to be acknowledged for your efforts. I guess i would say it's an honor.
Are you going to strive to keep that title?
I work very hard everyday. Titles don't really mean much to me. It's the difference i’m making that matters.
What do you wish to build out of these young men?
Successful black men, who go off to college so they can have jobs to sustain themselves in life, and good character, because character matters. Upstanding citizens basically.
Are you strict sometimes to get the message through their heads?.
There are somethings that are not negotiable, like respect and being prepared. If i come in everyday and have to ask people about a pen then i'm wasting my time. So being prepared is important.
Was it your background that contributed to you being good at teaching?
No. it was hard work and being open to something new . i like growing with the times and learning. I really like learning.
EAGLE NEWARK 10TH GRADERS SOAR WITH PROJECT U.S.E.
NEWARK - On September 13th, 2016 the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Newark 10th graders went on a trip to Wildcat Center. The park screamed solitude and was in the middle of a forest, but that was in the major part of the park, the place was huge. While surrounded by nature, the students participated in several activities that taught the young men to be “Eagle C.L.E.A.R (Confidence | Leadership | Effort | Academic Achievement | Resilience).”
The first activity was hiking. This taught the young men resilience, as the young men had to hike a mile or three. It was extremely tiring but the young men practiced resilience continuing to hike until the activity was over. We also learned leadership by getting others to practice the resilience that they themselves had demonstrated.
The second activity required the scholars to walk on a rope suspended in the air. This was to teach the young men confidence and to continue to build their resilience. There were times when they fell, but at the end the young men always got up and continued on their journey to the other side of the line.
The third activity was one where young men were to practice leadership. The young men were to balance on a wooden balance beam. One of the young men had to rise up and tell the other young men who had to get on the rope first. In one group, a young man named Shane persevered although there were times where the plan he had made for his group would fail. He tried again and again and by the third time his group got it down pat.
The final activity required both patience and knowledge. In this activity the young men were to carry other young men through a hole made of ropes. The entire structure was made of ropes and looked more or less like a beehive. The young men were not allowed to go through the same hole twice and they were not allowed to touch the rope. This seemingly impossible challenge reinforced the importance of leadership as most of the young men in the group figured out how to get all young me through all the ropes without hassle, and it all happened on their first try.
After an activity-filled day at the scenic Wildcat Center the young men all left the place telling the Project U.S.E. team what we learned. Standing in a circle while holding a “raccoon rope”, we all reflected on what we learned and the value of all the lessons learned. We had no regrets, only wishes that we could stay longer. As we departed, we all left unable to forget that within each of us, lies the ability to truly be Eagle C.L.E.A.R.
The musical journey at Eagle Newark
NEWARK - Music. It means alot to different people as everyone has a different mindset. Some people use it for workouts, some people use it to focus, some people use it to calm themselves down in frustrating situations. People are inspired by music. No matter what we do in life we make music. When we type, if we were to bring in a music producer, he would use the rhythm of your typing and turn it into something glorious. When we work, for example, no matter what I do I find myself humming a tune that i have never heard.
If I were to give myself a project to recreate the tune I keep repeating in my head, if was given the software, it would be useless to me because i would have no idea what I would be doing. And that is how musicians and music producers were created, these people are here to take their ideas or ours, and make it into a reality, something tangible, something that makes sense. At least that is what I tell myself.
For the past month or so, something amazing has been happening in room 426. Music of all different types, mixes, EDM, rap you name it. Mr. Owens had some music instruments, a little bit of everything, not just one pianos but 3 of them, a guitar, and a mixer or two, and some students thought they could put those materials to good use. Mr. Owens believes that music and academics go well together and the young men thought so too. The students have not faltered in their grades, as they have different times for everything just like they know when to play and when not to.
And as different people we all have our reasons for everything. I was determined to find answers about what draws these same students to the musical magic in Room 426, I began to interview my peers to seek, what would turn out to be, very revealing responses.
I decided to interview Jonathan Watome first. I asked him why enjoyed mixing music, and according to him “ I enjoy mixing music mostly because it's really relaxing and in all honesty it's just a lot of fun”. Immediately after the interview I decided to stay back just to watch how he mixes his music and truth be told if i was given the opportunity i wouldn't know what to do, he seemed to have mastered it all up to the point where I noticed him teaching people.
In conclusion, music is beautiful, music is a way of life, music is an expression, as we have seen a student uses music for a particular thing, i in my personal life use music to calm down. It has a different effect in everyone. With the interview i did i have gotten the inspiration to make my own music. For anyone who wants to make music. Trust me its a journey.