Education and Success in Adversity

Farkell Hopkins

Marietta High School student Farkell Hopkins getting ready for big things.

Public schools are at the front lines of our society’s various crisis. That’s one point I will return to again and again on this blog. Here’s just one example – when families flee from gang violence and poverty in Central and South America, public schools have to take the children in and educate them. It doesn’t matter if classrooms are already overcrowded and teachers overworked. Private schools can turn these children away. So while pundits talk about whether this move or that is constitutionally permissible in the ongoing debate over immigration, and blather on about how the latest maneuvers in DC will effect the next election cycle, public schools just have to get it done day in and day out. It’s about teaching, learning, and bringing up the next generation of workers, leaders, voters – and bloggers! And a school system like Marietta’s has an incredibly diverse population – from very affluent families to those living well below poverty. Our students come from traditional homes with two parents and siblings living together in a warm, supportive environment, to being homeless with no living parents. I could go on and on talking about these extremes. But to get to the point, this diversity is our challenge and opportunity.

The young man pictured above, Farkell Hopkins, has an interesting story you can read about here. He is an example of what may yet be achieved by a young person, with ability and who is willing to work hard, when dedicated teachers, administrators and school systems are committed to helping him. Here in Marietta, I am happy to report we are not giving up on students who might otherwise drop out and fail to reach their God-given potential. The Marietta High School Performance Learning Center is a place where kids who, like Farkell, have been saddled with the responsibility of not just going to school and doing homework, but also with raising themselves, caring for their families, shopping, cooking, paying bills, and so on, can earn their high school diplomas.

And who knows . . . Farkell wants to go to New York University to study business. Maybe that will happen. And when he goes on to start and build a successful business that creates good jobs that pay a living wage or better, he will be an example of how important education and flexibility, innovation and inspiration, are to education. The happiness and prosperity of our country depends on this.

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Signs for Our Times

For a year I was the DUI Court prosecutor in Cobb County, Georgia. Briefly, it is a specialty court designed to deal with defendants having multiple DUIs. The court places an emphasis on treating the root problem of alcoholism. Those who complete the program will hopefully not be a danger to the community anymore. Though not perfect, overall, DUI courts are proving successful with low recidivism rates. Now, I serve on the board of a new non-profit called Sober Streets, Inc. which will raise money for the court as grants and budget allotments only go so far. In a fit of artistic inspiration, I came up with the following design for our new organization. Here it is . . .

Sober Streets (small version)

Previously, I designed the logo for my successful school board campaign materials (yes, I was unopposed) . . .

MBOE Logo v2.1

So, now I’m thinking about starting my own logo design business. Need a logo designed for your business, political campaign, or other endeavor? Send me an email. My work is shoddy and my rates unreasonable! No, no, no . . . that’s not it.

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Veterans Day

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Arlington National Cemetery.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Arlington National Cemetery.

Listen to the memories of the parents of a Marine.

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Old Football Stadium Gets New Look

Demolition and renovation of historic Northcutt Stadium and French Johnson Field, home of the Marietta Blue Devils, began last Wednesday here in Marietta, Georgia. The stadium was built in 1940. One of the wise decisions made by the Board of Education (before my joining them) is to keep the field grass. Playing on grass is, in my opinion, an essential part of the game. As is playing outdoors. I love my Atlanta Falcons, but I’m no fan of the dome or artificial turf. The renovations, which are planned to be completed by the end of July 2015, include additional seating (from 5,263 seats to 6,088), a widened football field, new concession stands, bathrooms and lighting.  According to Marietta’s athletic director Paul Hall, the construction won’t interfere with football practice or games because the team practices at the high school, and it’s first two games of the 2015 season are scheduled as away games “just in case.”

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Election Over – Now The Work Begins

cat voter

Even a day after the polls closed, my Manx cat wears his Georgia Voter sticker with pride. And a laziness surpassing any instinct to groom.

I am honored to have been elected to represent Ward 1 on the Marietta Board of Education. It is the first elected office I have ever held. Before being reincarnated as an attorney (I had been very bad in a past life), I had been a school teacher for a number of years. I taught math and science at the Atlanta International School, the New Atlanta Jewish Community High School, the Native American Preparatory School near South San Ysidro, New Mexico, and the Flint Hill School in Fairfax, Virginia.

It is my intent to use this website and blog to stay in contact with the students, parents, teachers, and community which I serve. But, it is also my plan to blog about issues both directly and tangentially related to education as a means of engaging visitors, and as an exercise in keeping my own thinking current and sharp. Thus, while I live, work and play in Marietta, I hope to make this blog relevant and interesting to readers around Georgia, the US, and even the world. Education is an issue that is – or should be – important to everyone.

results

Running unopposed may not sharpen one’s campaigning skills, but it has its advantages.

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