It took Anthony Graham about three hours to travel from Greensboro to Kinston and about a week to collect the donations he delivered to Northeast Elementary School.
It took him about three decades to go from public housing in Kinston and a challenging start in school to his position as dean of the College of Education at North Carolina A&T State University.
It was the longer journey that he wanted to talk about with students at Northeast on Monday.
“Not very long ago I was in a classroom like this one at Bynum Elementary,” Graham told fifth graders from Konya Houston and Jerry Clyde’s classes.
“I was identified as a special needs student in third grade, so I always thought I was the dumb kid in class, always thought I was ‘less than.’ Because I thought that, I didn’t try as hard as I should have. But when I started to try, things started getting a lot better for me. So when you start thinking differently, you start behaving differently.”
Graham’s message of inspiration and encouragement came with an accompanying set of warnings – peer pressure, efforts by others to drag you down to their level, the difficulty of going your way. “Don’t allow anyone to cast doubt in your mind,” he told the students. “You are as smart as you think you are, and you can be even better.”
The interwoven themes at Northeast of self-respect, pride and continuous improvement got a boost from the A&T delegation’s visit. “They’ve come today not just to give supplies or to make donations, but they came because they care,” principal Felicia Solomon, herself an A&T graduate, said to the fifth graders.
But bring school supplies they did, including 50 backpacks and clothes that were collected in a week’s time by the honor societies and faculty and staff of the College of Education, according to Loury Floyd, assistant dean of the College of Education. Graham presented Solomon with a check for $600, a contribution from two education groups in Greensboro.
Graham and the group from A&T – along with A&T alumni like Solomon and LCPS Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II – left students with the message that effort is rewarded.
“He’s a 1991 graduate of Kinston High School, where you’ll be going to school,” Solomon said to students in introducing Graham. “Now he’s running a school at North Carolina A&T State University. That’s huge. He grew up in Simon Bright. That’s huge. What’s so powerful is that he looks just like you, feels just like you and was where you are at now.”
Graham was appointed dean of the College of Education earlier this year after holding the position of interim dean during the 2015-16 academic year. In 2010, he was appointed chairman of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Within five years, he was promoted to Interim Associate Dean of Graduate Programs.
He received a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teaching with a cognate in Multicultural Education and a master’s degree in secondary English Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University at North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began his career in education as a high school English teacher.
LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams, Associate Superintendent Frances Herring and Kim Hazelgrove, beginning teacher coordinator, were among district staff at Northeast to welcome and thank Graham.
|< Prev||Next >|