Sylathea Prescott-Hutchins, Ed.D.
I am new to the role of Executive Director for the Ready4LearningClub (R4LC), but not new to the R4LC. Ten years ago, Angela Lindsay was the school counselor, and I was the assistant principal at Gadsden Elementary School. I was the chief disciplinarian for the entire school, as well as the professional development administrator, as well as the evaluator of certified, and classified staff members. I also worked closely with the school's parent center to ensure our parents/caregivers have a better understanding of what we expected from their children… our students. We were a school that test results indicated 'needed to improve', and Angela and I had many discussions about how we could best help create that improvement and success in our students.
We both knew, as educators who were also musicians, that powerful tools for empowerment are found in creating music, poetry, and movement. When Angela began the Ready4LearningClub every morning with music and writing, to show students how to 'check up from the neck up', to get themselves ready for a successful day, in 5 minutes or less; I saw immediately that this method worked. I observed our young students with their teachers and parents, eagerly using tools that gave them control over challenges that had previously blocked their hardest efforts. With the R4LC, we were providing a powerful, effective, energizing, and self-applied tool to our students.
Sometimes though, it is challenging for innovative, 'outside the box' education solutions to be accepted by administrators who believe the old ways always remain the best ways. The R4LC was not embraced by our site administrator, and was discontinued. It was a great disappointment to all of us who worked so hard to utilize the arts at a performing arts school, to show our students how to survive and succeed in life by using their passion for art. After two years of working together, I was transferred to another school, and Angela left the school system to continue to focus on getting the R4LC strategies into the hands of children. We lost touch, and suddenly eight years had passed by.
Then, in what I can only describe as a miracle, my phone, without my awareness, dialed Angela's number about 3 months ago. When Angela returned the call the next day, we talked for a very long time, then met and talked even more over dinner a few nights later. As we shared all the things that had transpired in our lives, Angela shared that the R4LC hadn't been active, and had been on the shelf gathering dust for the last few years. Suddenly though, due to a tragic loss, it had become active again. Angela told me that Gordie Pacheco, one of the original R4LC volunteers and musicians, passed away suddenly in February 2012. In his memory his friends gave over five hundred dollars to R4LC. Angela decided to use that money to begin creating a documentary, about the good that just one community activist could do, by showing children how to help themselves through music. It would be called Gordie's Gift: A Backpack for Your Mind. Angela told me story after story after story about the miracles and experiences she and her team of volunteers had been having, following the unfamiliar path of stepping out on faith to accomplish something important, and seeing door after door opening.
By the end of the evening, when Angela told me R4LC needed an Executive Director, and asked me to consider, I knew I would say yes. There is an urgency I feel about the issues our young people are facing, that the R4LC mirrors. For over twenty-five years I have been an educator, an administrator, and an advocate for children. The need is greater now than it ever has been, for learners to understand and access their own learning success and survival strategies. My primary function and goal as Executive Director is to facilitate getting the Ready4LearningClub message and strategies into the hands of every young learner that is struggling, because they haven't learned how to think strategically and use tools. I am passionate about working hard, to make a difference, with something I believe in. I believe in children, and in their ability to save themselves, when they know how. I'll let you know how the journey progresses. And so it begins…
For the children,
Sylathea Prescott-Hutchins, Ed.D., Executive Director
Ready4LearningClub – It's How You Learn!