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Features Back to School

Published on August 11th, 2022 | by Calvin Mann


Back to School, Back to Value Now!

It’s close to the time of the year where our children should be focused on preparing for success. You see, the school year has started for some children who really take education seriously for their future. Parents are looking for back to school deals for children who have grown a few inches. The economy has some parents stressing about dressing their children but I want to share a more important topic to prep for and share some pointers… the importance of guidance. Children are our most important investment.  My hope is to bring light to how you, as well as the community, plays a part in making sure that every child has a chance to be successful. Success is possible! I know because I come from the type of community where we still leave the door open while running errands or to pay a bill.  How is this type of community possible you ask?  Well, it starts with families who respect each other, their property and life.  They are constantly thriving and caring for each other. Get this, this community is off of the infamous “8 mile” near Detroit.  It’s a community where families know each other.  When we had a problem, we talked through it.  Sometimes it was a fight or two, however the community was locked in and committed to the type of community we wanted.  When it came to sports and love, we shared a lot.  Love in our community was important.   So many of the marriages in the community grew from being childhood sweethearts.  Athletes were all fighting to have an opportunity to escape what we perceived as a problem; poverty.

This mindset is important because we all looked out for each other.  Most of the time when it came to school, fresh gear and shoes, everyone had their own unique style and attitude toward material things.  What was more important to us was that we would meet at the hoop court in the morning.   When we started the school year and had to go to pick up our schedules, we didn’t need our parents to take us.  The school staff just knew to ask your name and look up your counselor.  We never had to live with drive-by shootings or gun violence.  In fact, where we lived you didn’t come in our community with that behavior because families were not allowing it.

I am not saying that our community was perfect, but it was what we decided it would be and that was safe. Because it was safe, we were able to focus on education and not student behavior.  We were able to walk to school without fear of gangs and violence.  We were able to grow and thrive not adjust to a poverty and individual mindset.  We thought and acted like a community.  Because of my experiences, I want to share ways for you to help your community, children and family thrive.  Here are some tools for you to help your children have success.  The first step to success is be involved as a parent.  Participate in community clean ups.  Next, introduce yourself to your child’s teacher’s day one.  Be mindful of first impressions and do not embarrass the child by poor representation (what you wear, how you represent yourself and them).  Ask questions and exchange your personal contact email and all with school staff especially teachers and maybe even other parents.

Your child will see the relationships you are building and know that it is more to school than just lessons.  Be sure you build with teachers in the subjects where your child may have the most difficulty so the child cannot play you against the teacher.  The next thing is to introduce yourself to the principal of the school with your child to create a relationship there also.  The teachers and the principals are two of the most important relationships to build with at the beginning of a school year.

Finally, where relationships really get built is by meeting  all your child’s friend and parents.  Make sure to exchange contact information.  Ask them also what their plans are for their child to see if they have a plan and if your plans for your child align.  This relationship is important because they are the kids your child may hang out with most.  Because when you build relationships, you build your village.  Love and protection grows from intentionally building relationships. Let each school year be filled with planning toward a healthy life and healthy future.  As your student reaches middle and high school, exposure to HBCUs, college, trade schools, and complimentary career pathways, and even the excitement around just graduating is essential. Planting the seeds of hope helps to shape a child’s mindset.

Lastly, my advice is to ground your children.  Grounding includes ensuring your child has a mentor and/or engages in mentoring.  Next, it includes that you constantly keep your family and community values in front of them.  You have to live the same values you want them to have.  You have to be mindful of your words and be sure to make them engaging and encouraging.  If you know that you have spoiled them by giving them everything that they want when they want it, make sure that they are balanced with giving not just receiving.   Entitlement breeds distrust, lack of others’ value and little to no accountability.  By grounding your child he/she builds character, a positive self-image and unifies your community.  Remember, it’s a “We Thing” that is needed to have safe communities for our children to thrive in.  Let’s restore our families by investing more in our children and community! Shout out to the old 8-mile Royal Oak Twp!


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About the Author

Calvin T. Mann, National Encourager is gifted as a facilitator, speaker, talk show host (EMIYTV podcast), mentor, vocalist, producer, visionary, coach, author, community activist and proud father of 5. He continues to build boys and men in ways that change their trajectory daily. He has coordinated recreation, organized sports and mentorship programs, led intervention strategies in detention centers, communities, families, and schools. Since 2004, a champion for the silenced voices of children slain to suicide and violence; Mann placed t-shirts with positive messages of encouragement at the sight of slain children to raise awareness of our responsibility to our children and their future. Mann’s passion and unique perspective exemplifies diversity, self-belief and love for his fellow man. Often serving on panels, creating intervention opportunities in schools, or speaking directly to students of all ages he offers enlightening words of encouragement while captivating audiences. Sharing practical solutions and perspectives of boys, men, husbands and fatherhood, realizing our human potential, revealing the benefits of mentorship, family connections, and community impact are just a few of topics that have empowered people toward real change. He has earned the respect and admiration of many including the City of Detroit who bestowed its highest honor “The Spirit of Detroit” award along with Wayne County and the State of Michigan both presenting powerful Resolutions naming April 6th “EMIY National Respect Day” to acknowledge the achievement, investment and role of Calvin T. Mann locally and throughout the country. Calvin is a Man[n] on the front line; encouraging boys and supporting fathers; changing families and our community one encouraging word at a time.

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