After school program at Margate Middle teaches children why ‘School is Cool’
By Charles Moseley
There is an African proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” To some these words may be just another catch phrase or a cliché which sounds good. However, there are some people and organizations in communities across the nation that doesn’t take these words lightly.
Former NFL pro football player Henri Crockett, a native of Pompano Beach, Fla., has proved what one individual can do when they harness their resources and commit their time and their energies in order to make a difference in the lives of children in the community. Crockett launched an after school enrichment program three years ago at Margate Middle School, known as “School is Cool.”
On April 18, 2016 there was an air of excitement before the school day began at Margate Middle School.
Thanks to Crockett’s efforts, along with the staff from the “School is Cool’ Program, in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Broward, School Board of Broward County, and Nova Southeastern University, a group of students from Margate Middle School had a pleasant departure from what would have been a typical day of school.
“School is Cool” participants received a special treat in the form of a special field trip, all the way to the Miami Beach Convention Center. Judging by the looks on the faces of the nearly 60 students as each one boarded a luxury tour bus, this day would not be a garden variety field trip. Their final destination wound up at the eMerge Americas Technology Expo.
The two-day event featured a plethora of exhibits from leading companies in the field of technology and an array of internationally known keynote speakers who may not be readily identified with technology but certainly recognizable for their accomplishments in their respective fields of endeavor.
Some of those in attendance included; former U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; author, Futurist/Inventor Ray Kurzweil; Activist/Writer Monica Lewinsky; and Musician/Entrepreneur Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull.
The event also highlighted areas of technology including eGov, Women Innovations & Technology, Texpert, and Launch PAD; all of which represented the cutting edge in the ever changing world of technological advancement.
“Our overall goal is to make sure these kids – it’s about playing on a level playing field. We give the opportunity and the resources to compete on a national level and that’s what it’s really all about- raising the standards, raising the bar for these kids and making them believe that they can do anything they want to do.”
“We’ve started to see a lot of change in the kids but one of the things we want to do is to expose them to a lot of different things to let them know that the world is so really big out there that they can do more than shoot a basketball or play football so that’s our whole thing getting them out here to this conference, letting them see all these different technologies- let them fall in love with the video games that they play on a day to day basis and understand there are jobs you can do to make these video games. You can make a ton of money and also have a good time doing it,” added Crockett.
Margate Middle School reading teacher Deborah Robertson is part of a team of instructors who operate the day to day operation of the “School is Cool” Program. She chaperoned the field-trip, barking out orders ala drill sergeant/resident mom throughout the day and keeping everyone in order.
“Through his Crockett Foundation, Henri Crockett, CEO has implemented his vision of nurturing and developing students into globally successfully productive citizen. He’s afforded these students an opportunity of a lifetime to experience firsthand innovative research and creativity brought to life, but to make a real world life changing impact on their lives academically and socially,” said Robertson.
Margate Middle School seventh graders Makayla White and Bentley Paul are veterans of the “School is Cool” program and provided their take on their eMerge experience.
“I liked the field trip because I got to learn about different careers that I could choose from such as coding or becoming a technician and stuff like that. I think what I learned today will help me in the future and it is good for young people to experience what we did today,” said White.
“I liked all the new technology and the stuff that we got to see. I think we’ll actually get to use these things in the world in the future. I enjoyed the hands on experience. They had a lot of cool stuff like robots and virtual reality and I think 2016 is really going to be a good year for technology and the world’s going to be really awesome now,” added Paul.
Brandon L. Hensler is the executive director of University Relations at NSU, a sponsor and supporter of exposing science and technology for students which he considered a sound investment in the future of the country.
“Exposing the youth, our future leaders of our community and of our nation and our entire world, is really so important because technology is changing at a very, very rapid pace and we’re teaching what’s going to be the technology of tomorrow but these kids are going to be creating new technologies for our future. At a conference like this they’re being exposed to companies, to government, and other organizations and universities like NSU who are part of that future.”
Margate Middle School literacy instructor Patricia Wilson also works closely with students and worked with the afterschool program for a year and a half. She says it has had a tremendous impact on her students.
“The School Is Cool program is a lifesaver for some of these students and their parents. The students that attend this program are able to complete their homework/class work (in order to earn good or better grades), work with up-to-date technology, and be in a safe environment. Mr. Crockett is a father figure to all of these students. He is always reminding them that he is one of them. He came from humble beginnings, but with hard work and an education, the sky is the limit,” said Wilson.