Retired Educator, Professional Christian Counselor and American Red Cross Volunteer, Dr. E. Laverne Williams, has imparted wisdom to high school graduates from Central Florida for years. And the tradition continues: She participates in drive-by graduation celebrations sponsored by her church, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church of Eatonville, acknowledging scholarship and honorable mention recipients.
Also, in a recent interview, she shared some wisdom nuggets to hold on to during challenging times like these. The nuggets, meant for high school graduates heading off to college, military, vocational schools or the workforce, are good for anyone feeling an overwhelming amount of stress, social isolation, trauma or various social, emotional and mental health issues.
Take note of Dr. Williams’ own “Be-Attitudes” nuggets:
▪ Be unapologetically yourself: You will never influence the world by trying to be like the world.
▪ Be the source of what you want to attract in your life: Whatever you want to experience yourself, be that source within the lives of others.
▪ Be confident: Do not feel the need to conform to anyone else’s ideas and realities of who you should or should not be.
▪ Be humble: Humility is not appearing passive and weak. Your character has to be one of confidence, while respecting those around you and what they have to offer others. Set aside differences, pride and opinions to create humility.
▪ Find your niche (post COVID-19): Spend time with roommates, join clubs, play sports; meet friends, create a community or multiple communities of individuals who make you feel safe, happy, secure and supported so that you can be yourself.
Why is sharing nuggets like these each year so important to Dr. Williams? She said, “Because the idea, the thought, the energy of graduating from high school is a challenge within itself.
“Education has changed drastically during the past 10-15 years. It has transitioned from teaching and learning to coaching and tutoring to pass state tests and to boost school grades. In my professional opinion as an educator for more than 45 years, authentic education has been watered down and diluted so much that it takes the true meaning of life-long learning out of the classrooms. The majority of teachers have been stripped of their creativity, originality and innovative strategies of the teaching and disciplining the “whole” student. We owe the majority of this erosion to Common Core and legislators/educational legislations that have managed to irreparably damage the educational system.
Our young people/students need to know that their church family has supported and encouraged them throughout their educational matriculation. They also need to know and understand that the love, prayers and support will continue.”
The past two years (2020 and 2021) have been like none other because of the effects of the COVID-9 virus on our daily lives. Many high school graduates throughout the country delayed their first semester of college, while some took classes online and others went ahead off to college (some of whom learned later on that their on-campus housing closed down because of a spike in Coronavirus cases: They had to either leave campus or stay in their dorm rooms with strict quarantine rules.)
In her role as a counseling professional, Dr. Williams has seen and heard more than any one person should. But God has given her the grace, love, authority; peace, joy, empathy and education to observe and help people through their difficult and dark crises and sometimes their hopeless-appearing challenges.
“Our students have been through so much during their 13 years in school. For instance, social media challenges/threats (bullying), biased testing, increased peer suicides, drug use/abuse/addictions, homelessness, sexual abuse/molestation, domestic violence; social-economic deprivation, COVID-19 Pandemic as well as educators who are often unmotivated, inexperienced and insensitive to the needs of our children of color, minorities. The majority of minority students are not being taught or trained to become leaders or independent thinkers partly because of the misuse and abuse of technology and the lack of discipline in the homes and schools.”
She said, “Call me old-school, traditional or old-fashioned if you like. We must get a handle on parenting, educating and disciplining our children and young people. There are no real role models in many of our homes and definitely NOT in our schools. There must be leaders and role models within every entity of our children’s lives in order to facilitate the positive and independent growth that our students so critically/crucially need to become contributing members of society!”
Thank God for the church! Thank God for Macedonia’s Pastor Willie C Barnes, who has the heart for children and understands the importance of training up children in the way they should go and instilling in them the importance of having a true relationship with God.
Dr. Williams ended the interview by sharing some wisdom nuggets for parents/guardians of graduates also:
▪ Keep in touch. Don’t become a helicopter parent.
▪ Be prepared to listen and provide guidance, options and suggestions – not quick fixes. Keep this in mind parents: T.L.C. – you have TRAINED them, you LOVE them and now you must CAST them. Clip their wings and watch them soar!
▪ Don’t hit the ceiling or get irate about grades.
▪ Know when to get involved (Parents know their students better than anyone else. If you suspect a mental health condition or some type of allergic reaction that may send your student into a tailspin, respond immediately by seeking medical and/or professional mental health help.)
▪ Be open to new routines; consider large changes for the student and for the family.
Congratulations to all high school graduates! Always do your best and keep these nuggets in mind! Dr. Williams can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more information.
– Trish Martin, Founder and Editor, Orlando Community News