A Special Salute to Some Outstanding People
Robert B. Ingram, Ph.D.

You know there is no better feeling than one of having helped a student find his our her way. I had such a feeling recently after having a great day at North Dade Middle School serving as Principal for a Day. My hat is off to School Principals like Mrs. Eunice Davis - for people like her truly earn their keep.

Moreover, I had the good fortune of working with Mr. Sippio, Mr. Barry Singleton, Mrs. Penny Puco, Mr. Alvin Miller, who also serves as Mayor of Opa-locka and Mrs. Johnson the Reading Leader. I want to offer a special shout out to all the other administrators and staff members and parents who are working smartly to keep our children on task and on track.

I was blessed to have met some of the sharpest students in North Dade County during my service. I want Mrs. Davis to know that her work and that of her team is appreciated by our school system, and I say to them keep up the great work!

I also want to offer a special salute to Mr. Steve Wolf who seem to be all over the place. He too visited North Dade Middle School to see how things were going. Keep up the great work Steve.

Let me also send a "shout out" to Mrs. Thelma Calloway. Mrs. Calloway is one of our downtown supervisors who seems to always be on the case of promoting a learning for our students and their parents. Right on Mrs. Calloway, you are making, a positive difference in the lives of our students.

You know I am convinced more than ever that many of our people don't come into the teaching profession or work in our schools merely for the pay. Especially if you take into consideration what the American Federation of Teachers have to say.

They note that if you factor in the hours teachers spend in and outside the classroom, the physical and emotional exertion required to handle just two children, let alone twenty-five or 30 Plus, add the stress associated with shaping one's own future, and you quickly come to the conclusion that teachers are grossly underpaid.

What I think is the driving force for most of the people I have met is their desire to make a positive difference in the lives of students. I find that many of our teachers are viewed as surrogate mothers or fathers - and have numerous opportunities during a typical nine-month school year to shape, and even redirect their student's future. I'm sure I don't have to convince any of you watching of the pivotal role in helping students, especially first generation students get on board the learning train.

So I'm asking you if you know any of the people I have named or if you know any teacher, administrator, staff person, parent who are about the business of helping our children learn, Give them a pat on the back and tell them how much you appreciate their service. In keeping with my own suggestion, I want to thank Dr. Eddie Pearson, Dr. Henry Fraind, Dr. Carol Cortez, Dr. Nelson Diaz and Ms. Bernadette Potier, Ms. Potier is an Administrative Director in our downtown office - all of the foregoing are making a positive difference in our school organization.

I'm also going to send, as our young folk would say, "a shout out" to staff from time to time because I don't think they get the appropriate notice for jobs well done. So my hat is off to Mr. Joe Mathos, Mr. Ron Felton, Mr. Nelson Perez, Mr. Samuel Gay, Dr. John Goonen, Ms. Mary lngram, Mrs. Hyacinth Johnson, Mr. Mark Zaher, Mr. Carlos Manrique, Ms. Joan Connors, Mrs. Yvonne Tart Jenkins and Mr. Earl Davis a great group from the Community & Alternative Education & Student Support Services that continues to do a great work.

Finally, to the students who may be watching - please participate in my "READ TO LEAD" campaign. Visit my web page and click on the "READ TO LEAD" dot. Every student that reads 10 books that are verified by a teacher or counselor will be rewarded with a beautiful certificate of achievement signed by me.

To get you started, LET ME SUGGEST A BOOK. The book is titled "The Seven habits of Highly Effective Teens" by Sean Covey. There exist many stories in this book but there is one particularly story that I thought was exceptionally powerful.

It was a story about King Louis the Sixteenth of France. It seems that King Louis had been taken from his throne and imprisoned. His young son, the prince, was taken by those who dethroned the king.

They thought that inasmuch as the king's son was heir to the throne, if they could destroy him morally, he would never realize the great and grand destiny that life had bestowed upon him. They took him to a community far away, and there exposed the lad to every filthy and vile thing that life could offer. They exposed him to foods the richness of which would quickly make him a slave to appetite.

They used vile language around him constantly. They exposed him to lewd and lusting women. They exposed him to dishonor and distrust. The young Prince was surrounded twenty-four hours a day by everything that could drag the soul of a man as low as one could slip.

For over six-months he had this treatment but not once did the young lad buckle under pressure. Finally, after intensive temptation, the captures questioned him. Why had he not submitted himself to these things? Why had he not partaken? All of the things that were offered provided pleasure, things that would satisfy one's lusts, and things that were desirable to everyone else; and all of them were offered to him, why wouldn't he partake in them? The boy said, "I cannot do what you ask for I was born to be king".

To all the students watching I want you to take the same attitude in approaching your time in school and your studies. You see you too were born to a king or queen. If you find peers that are trying to get you caught up in doing things that are either illegal, immoral or improper hold on to what you know is right and do what is right. Don't let no one turn you around.

Because you have to live with yourself- make certain that you are in good company. We need you to demonstrate:

A-courage that will not run from your responsibility.

A faith that will not doubt positive guidance.

A confidence that will not betray your family.

A commitment ::that will not forsake your teachers

A character that will not submit to fads and foolishness and

A perseverance, that will not give in, give up or give out.

Know that if you can conceive it, and believe it, you can achieve it. Yes, it is your attitude, not your aptitude, that will determine your altitude.

Finally, it is right to start where you are But you don't have to stay where you are. Thank you for joining me at this hour. Have a blessed day.

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