Robert B. Ingram, Ph.D.

November 21, 2000

Ladies and gentlemen, I come before you with meekness and appreciation for the confidence you have vested in me, and with reverence in all that we've accomplished together.

Today, I will speak only briefly to thank the people who made this moment possible. First, to my wife, Delores, thank you for being the wind beneath my wings. To our two children, Tirzah and Tamara, graduates of Miami Carol City - I am proud of you both. To the members of my church, to my many friends, to our extended family, and to all who have added brightness to our lives, I thank you.

Congratulations to those elected to serve with me and to my colleagues who did not have to face re-election this term. To all of our school administrators, teachers, staff members; to the parents, notably parents like Mrs. Dahlia Excell and to our students, especially students with the courage of Diamond Excell and her sister Daysha.

You see, students like Diamond make serving on this School board truly worthwhile. Diamond was brought to my attention by Dr. Ben Cowins of Norland Senior High school and I asked the Superintendent Roger Cuevas to get involved and he called into service of Ron Felton. Ultimately Mr. Ivan Yeager, a prosthesis inventor was recruited to create the needed prosthesis for Diamond at a cost of $60,000. Well I am pleased to say that between the Opa-locka Rotary and the Rotary International Foundation we were able to raise $60,000 plus and we pray that Diamond's prosthesis is only a short time away. The first thing Diamond said she wanted to do with her new arms was to give her mother a big hug.

I thank my constituents for the privilege of serving as school board member which is a position that offers a Benevolent Pulpit to champion causes like that of Diamond Excell.

To my supporters, by your allowing me to serve as your school board representative you have made many statements, among them are these:

1. You will help me assure that our students will not end up as a negative statistic.
2. You will help me work to make all of our students productive members of society preparing them earn their own way.
3. You will help me ignite within our student's purpose, faith, in their ability, to succeed despite the obstacles.
4. You will help me provoke clear and convincing evidence that failure is not an option.

I am well aware that no one person can resolve every problem they might encounter during their service. But I can continue to build on the foundation laid by the Honorable William Turner, The Honorable Joyce Knox, the Honorable Dr. Frederica Wilson, and the Honorable Dr. Solomon Stinson. My work is being added on to theirs.

So I come at this time in history celebrating those that paved the way, those who have given of themselves their time their talent and their treasures, to prepare the path. I pray that together with my present colleagues who also have made the school system a safer and therefore better place to study and learn continue to move our school system forward.

This we must do in spite of every instinct to look out for "Numero Uno" an idea that started with the proposition that "Self preservation is the first; law of nature," a course of action calling for man to serve only himself. But the real truth, I've learned, is that if a person is to serve himself best, he must serve others well. This is not a new idea, it is a basic idea that predates all great religions and is repeated in each of them.

My goal is service. As the great educator Dr. Mary McCloud Bethune would offer "Service is the price I must pay for the space I occupy."

Not only that, I have been told:
If you want one year of prosperity grow grain;
If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees;
If you want hundreds of years of prosperity, grow children.

So, I would like to put forth three facets that form the essence of my service to grow children as a School Board Member: (1) My attitude towards God, (2) My attitude towards myself, and (3) My attitude towards others. You see I am convinced that it is your attitude, and not your aptitude that will determine your altitude.

As a point of departure let me speak to my attitude towards GOD. You see I have a growing faith and a belief in God and I am dependent on HIM to give me the spiritual and moral strength that I need to make the right decisions. GOD gives me the ingredients for my daily bread, but HE expects me to do the baking.

Therefore I have supported this administration in moving our schools forward into the new millennium. As a result during our last school year, creative minds dreamed the impossible, and astoundingly, the impossible happened - our students' improvement on the crucial FCAT test, the basis of the state's A-Plus Plan for Education improved significantly, with second-graders boosting their reading scores by 13 points, and fifth-graders raising their math scores by 19 points. Congratulations are in order all of the members of our school system who rose to the rigorous challenge.

Secondly, My attitude towards myself. I believe that God did not bring me this far to leave me. He has endowed me with certain talents that I must continuously develop not for myself alone but to serve others better.

One of my goals then is to see that our children, particularly our children who are considered the least and the lost - they must understand that they are not just going to school but they are actually paying a debt as thanks to those who have put their lives on the line to challenge an unjust system and who made it possible for them to go to school. Additionally, it is my belief that one of the predominate goals of our school system must be to create graduates who are capable of doing things, not simply repeating what other generations have done - but graduates who are innovative, inventive, insightful and industrious. And this will occur with GOD being my guide.

Thirdly my attitude towards others is to overcome the conflicts we have in society today, the problems of law and order the hostility among races. The greatest and noblest pleasure we can have in this school system is to discover new truths about people different from ourselves and the next is to shake off old prejudices. We must end the defense of prejudice and begin the crusade for principles. Principle is not the absence of prejudice - it is mastery over our prejudice. The ultimate accomplishment of our school system stands within our own grasp if we keep learning, moving, growing, working and serving. True it will not be easy to accomplish these goals, however, the facts say that these goals can be a real possibility with God, determination, motivation, service and cooperation.

I offer my support to any and all who want to join in working toward this end.

Finally, I pledged all my energy toward increasing my ability, stability, responsibility and accountability to student safety and student educational excellence, together we must be our children caretakers or for sure we will visit our children's undertakers.

So when I feel discouraged I will remember the stonecutter who after striking a blow with his hammer saw the rock split. He knew that it was not his blow alone that split the rock but all the blows that had been struck before.

I know that I have not struck all 101 blows to achieve the high honor of being one of our children's caretakers. I started where other Board Members left off. I am grateful for the Honorable William Turner, Joyce Knox, Dr. Frederica Wilson, Dr. Solomon Stinson and a host of others who put into action this great educational foundation on which the rest of us can build.

Again, for me personally and for my family, thank you for treasure of your support.

I appeal to my colleagues for us to work together in "Giving our students the world."
Let us proclaim it from the dais.

Let us shout it from the housetops.

Let us sing it on the street comers.

Let us declare it from every room and classroom.

And by all means,

Let us believe it in our hearts.

There is JOY in giving our children the world,

In spite of the adversities we may experience in our service - there is JOY. In spite of the burdens we may have to bear - there is JOY.
In spite of the discouragement's that come from time to time - there is JOY.

Real JOY.

Genuine JOY.

Unspeakable JOY.

Unbelievable JOY.

Undeniable JOY.

Uncontainable JOY.

Exhilarating JOY.

Let us make this a positive school year. Our community deserves no less. Thank you.

To contact Dr. Ingram, please call 305-995-1340 or e-mail