What will you do when the game is over?

I am a die-hard New England Patriots fan. The final minutes of Super Bowl LI was for the history books, though not good for my racing heart. Did I mention that I love the Patriots, the good, the bad and the ugly? Did you notice during the game, one young wide receiver (WR), rookie Malcolm Mitchell, had six receptions for 70 yards breaking a record set by WR Terry Glenn  in 1996? More remarkable than his play during the game, is his story.

 A graduate of the University of Georgia, Malcolm entered college reading at a junior high level. Not content  with his literacy level, during a period of rehabilitation from a torn ACL, Malcolm worked with tutors intensively  to improve his reading skills. Wanting to move beyond his comfort zone, he became an avid reader. One day  he approached a woman in a Barnes & Noble in Athens, Georgia requesting a book recommendation.  Malcolm not only received a recommendation, he also became a member of Kathy Rackley’s book club. He is  the youngest, the only male and the only African- American member of this club and he is proud of it. During  an interview with CBS News, Malcolm proclaimed his pride in becoming a nerd. Never one to be too far from  a book now, he has authored a book, The Magician’s Hat, which encourages young people to follow their  dreams. Best of all, the setting of The Magician’s Hat is a library, one of my happy places (the other is any  bookstore). Continuing his advocacy for literacy, Malcolm created the Share the Magic Foundation, a  nonprofit with a mission to “promote the long-term benefits of reading and book ownership among students in  Title I schools and underserved communities.”

 Malcolm Mitchell is in good company. Let me tell you about another New England Patriot’s work with literacy.  Currently playing for the Patriots as a tight end, Martellus Bennett asks in his Tedx Talk, More Than An Athlete, and “What will you do when the game is over?”(Ah, now you know how this article got its title). Using his creativity, intelligence and imagination, he founded The Imagination Agency, creating a world of characters for children to experience while increasing their literacy skills. , The Imagination Agency’s first book, with its mobile interactive app, allows children to explore A.J.’s adventures making breakfast on her own. I bought the app and played the game! Somehow, I missed some of the bunnies along the way – must try again.

Most importantly, Malcolm Mitchell and Martellus Bennett envisioned a life beyond professional sports and took steps during their careers to make that transition. Let their leadership guide all future student-athletes to consider life off the playing field. 

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May 2021 Update

Professional development continues to be a major factor in my work life. With physical visits to campuses curtailed during 2020 (most are re-opening for in-person visits), I spend about 7 -10 hours per week on virtual visits with college admission counselors. The IECA, one of my professional organizations, regularly conducts College Conversations, an hour-long presentation with time built in for Q & A. To date, members of IECA had sessions with the colleges on the chart. Additionally, I added to this list by facilitating sessions in my capacity as the college counselor for the Montessori School of Raleigh where, along with the students, we learned more about UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, the College of Wooster, Queens University of Charlotte, Muhlenberg, Elon, Western Carolina, North Carolina Central, the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Did you know UNC Wilmington has a major in Coastal Engineering or that Western Carolina (along with UNC Pembroke and Elizabeth City State) is a NC Promise institution? A NC Promise school’s in-state tuition is $500 while non-residents pay $2500 per semester.

Our virtual world allows for hours upon hours of accessible college information sessions. I had to step back and limit myself to a reasonable number of hours of “college visits”.

I challenge my students regularly to move beyond their comfort zone and during the height of the pandemic, I stretched myself way beyond my level of comfort. I am one of 14 co-authors of Becoming The Shero, an anthology depicting the journeys of entrepreneurs at different stages of their lives. My story is in the Embracing the Pivot section.

Another way I stay current is through my new position at Providence College. As of August 2020, I am the College Supervisor for the School Counseling Program. What does the college supervisor do? I supervise the students in the program during their 2-semester internship at a school, where they are directly supervised by their Site Supervisor, a certified professional school counselor. It is the student teaching equivalent for school counseling.

Reading is a daily pleasure for me. Here are nine books (not in chronological order) that helped me to educate myself about current events and issues of social justice:

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents ~ Isabel Wilkerson
  • How to Be An Anti-Racist ~ Ibram X. Kendi
  • Stamped From The Beginning ~ Ibram X. Kendi
  • I’m Still Here ~ Austin Channing Brown
  • The Color Of Law ~ Richard Rothstein
  • We Want To Do More Than Survive ~ Bettina Love
  • Down Along With That Devil’s Bones ~ Connor Towne O’Neill
  • Interrupting Racism: Equity and Social Justice in School Counseling ~ Rebecca Atkins & Alicia Oglesby
  • Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race ~ Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.

To stay up-to-date on trends in college, career and paying for college, see my list of books under the “Parent Resources” tab.

I challenge my students to be lifelong readers. I am practicing what I preach. What are you reading today?

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