The Power of a Circle

Yesterday I almost cried. For seven months I’ve been spending either my Monday or Tuesday afternoon with students from Birmingham, Alabama’s Woodlawn High School through a Church of the Highlands Small Group called Steps to Success. Like clockwork these amazing 9th-12th graders would trek across the street from school to the Birmingham Dream Center, filing in one-by-one, some with smiles, some with giggles, and some with looks of sheer exhaustion, after spending a day learning within the four wall of the traditional academic atmosphere.

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Week-by-week they would come for another round of education through the small group I was blessed to be able to start just to spend another hour or so learning. Sure, there was Little Ceasar’s free pizza and the occasional Chick-fil-A sandwiches. Yes, there were my corny jokes, standard “Hey, y’all” when they walked through the door and required picture taking when they departed. Certainly there were amazing co-leaders leading and helping organize along side me like Mr. William, Ms. Jones and Ms. Helen from the Dream Center who made it all happen for us each week with welcome arms and a warm smile. Absolutely there were the speakers who showed up to give back each week sharing their professional advice, personal “oops, I made a mistake”, stories of struggle and triumph, wisdom, connections and God-given love. Don’t believe me? Just check and see who and how AWESOME they are. BTW…my friends and colleagues ROCK! #blessedtoknowthem

September 8: First and Lasting Impressions in Business and Life-Angela Moore

September 15: Law and/or Finance-William McKenzie

September 22: Mock Interviews and Networking –Angela Moore and Rikki Ross

September 29: Public Relations-Chanda Temple and Jeniese Hosey

October 6: US Air Force-Lacy Gunnoe

October 20: Media- Pamela Cook and Tasha Simone

October 27-Owning Your Own Business- Kim Colvin, Chandra Sparks Splond, Pastor Mike and Dee Edwards

November 3: Business and Public Safety- Annetta Nunn and Charlie Glover

November 10: Community Engagement-Bacarra Mauldin, Tanika Harrell, DeShunn Wilkerson, and Jennifer Hatchett

November 17: College 101-Kristalyn Lee

November 24: Science and Technology-Russell McClinton, Kaye Williams and Cynthia Byner

February 10: Soft Skills- Rikki Ross and Angela Moore

February 17: Design-Traci Ann Moore

March 3: Social Justice and Youth Leadership-Rebecca Harkless and Angela Moore

March 10: Social Work-Walter Robinson

March 17: Videography, Photography, Graphics-Patrick Johnson, Eric Jones and Terria Jones

March 24: Community Leadership- Taneisha Tucker and Charmel Taylor

April 7: Health- Michelle Bridges, RN

April 14: Life Enrichment-Dr. Mark Sullivan and Cassaundra Davis

April 21: Following Your Dreams-Joe Lockett, Melva Tate and Comedienne Joy of The Joe Lockett Show

April 28: The Truth About High School-Angela Moore

May 5: Law- William McKinley

May 12: Closing Ceremony with Returning Speakers

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Most importantly there were the students! These future veterinarians, computer program designers, cosmetologists, engineers, music producers, politicians, public speakers, medical experts, civic servants and sports analysts who also just so happen to be some of the brightest million dollar and nationally known scholarship winners, robotics team leaders, horticulture experts, basketball players, playwrights, student ambassadors and all-around good people filled the room and filled our hearts each week with their mere presence. Sometimes braving the cold, potential snow and heat while others were home, hanging out or being ordinary teens, these extraordinary human beings showed up each week and soared. The ease at which they trusted the help of strangers, pouring out their thoughts and questions had me in awe. Their spunk, inquisitiveness and support of each other inspired me. The things they learned and taught simultaneously in our often-lopsided circle will stick with me forever.

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Who knows where all these mighty agents of change will go in life. No one but God for sure. But I can speak on behalf of all those who spoke to them during the Steps to Success Small Group and safely say I’m glad I was in the circle along for a part of their journey, and can’t wait to see where it takes them.

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@AngelaMMoore316

I Spilled My Tea

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of students from Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School through a mentoring program/small group I host called Steps to Success. The two speakers I’d arranged to come and talk about Money Matters couldn’t make it for very important reasons which left me faced with figuring out in the 11th hour what I was going to talk to them about during the one hour after school I had their full attention. I sat down in front of them and explained the absence of our speakers and asked what they wanted to hear about. One of my more quiet young men hollered out, “You, we want to know more about you.” So that set the stage for me spilling my tea about me…the Ramsay High School Version, that is.

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For a little over an hour, over the backdrop of pouring rain, whispers, giggles, and teens smacking on Little Ceasar’s pizza I told them about skipping school (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), arguing with my parents about not letting me stay in a hotel for prom (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), the battle with the curfew (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), my high school boyfriend’s horrific murder, relying on the support of family, friends, medical professionals and the Lord to help me heal and deal, the importance of being involved in extra-curricular activities to meet new and exiting people and experiences, and so on and so on.

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The things I shared with them were for them, but as I rehearsed my own words, I realize that even now, at my age, or any age they still apply to me, and so many. Here’s what I shared with them:

• If you love someone tell them.

• Use your words carefully for fear they will come to pass.

• Use your words boldly with confidence they will come to pass.

• The heart can heal.

• Choose your friends very, very wisely, recognizing that some may have to one day get off the bus (or be kicked off) because they’re no longer headed in your direction.

• One day you will be someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, leader, Pastor, CEO, teacher, etc. and who you are today can greatly affect that role one way or the other.

• Different is a great way to be.

• It’s okay to start over, and over, and over. Just don’t settle in your mistakes.

• Stay connected to teachers, mentors, and associates who are where you want to be, or can help you get there.

• Don’t rush to get old. Stay and enjoy the beauty of right where you are as long as you can.

• Somebody loves you, believes in you and will do their part for you to become who you are created to be…if you let them.

• Our elders got to be old for a reason. Usually they know of what they speak.

• And lastly…never, ever skip school following the Annual College Fair at the Civic Center to go to Ensley Park with friends and a boy with a name you now can not even remember. In the end, after that interaction with a belt you won’t remember his name, only the embarrassment from having to wear a black and white striped, mini-skirt ensemble from Parisian in Eastdale Mall in Montgomery the next day which gave gentle, glimpses of the interaction with the belt. Years after this bit of teenage tomfoolery, you’ll only be privy to enough of the pain from that interaction and sketchy details from the eating pizza in the park story to tell and gain many a gasp and lots of “Oh my gooooddddnneessss, Ms. Moore, I know you didn’t do something like that”, from a group of amazing kids. (And to the non-believers in the power of discipline. No, my parents did not in any way abuse me. They loved me enough to do their part to save me from a path of “Self-Destruction” as the old hip-hop hit went.)

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@AngelaMMoore316