James Jerome Hankins implores all members of the school community to maximize their potential by working together in the upcoming school year. (Courtesy photo)

By James Jerome Hankins

Students all across the country are returning to classrooms. Scholars are arriving with supplies for a variety of subjects: calculators and protractors for math, dictionaries and thesauruses for English– but there is another thing all students (and parents and teachers) should carry with them on the first day and throughout the school year: a “Yes I can!” attitude. 

Alone, some things are possible. But together, our communities can tackle any challenge that comes. This year, make sure to lean on your village as you go through the school year. Have you ever thought of how many “home team” players make the first day– and every day of the school year– happen?

There are plenty  “A” team members that will happily lead/ guide you. They are trained, organized, equipped, and ready for opening day. There are parents and guardians leading first in the home.  

Conscious, patient, crossing guards and licensed bus drivers are making sure students arrive safely and GM-certified auto mechanics keep the buses in tip-top shape. Meticulous, patient custodial staff  keep the school clean and safe. 

We can never omit the cafeteria staff that cook and serve countless breakfast and lunch meals. There are innovative, patient teachers and their assistants. Enthusiastic subject teachers like Marva Collins, Jaine Escalante, Mary McLoud Bethune and Charles J. Ogletree all have their place in the halls of greatness. 

Vocational teachers like George Washington Carver, business teachers like Madam C.J. Walker and Reginald F. Lewis have all blazed a path for an amazing school year. 

Band, chorus and drama teachers like Aretha Franklin and Harry Belafonte are encouraging our youth to express themselves on the stage and coaches like Clarence “Big House” Gaines and Eddie Robinson are there to push students past the point of “giving up.”  Physical education teachers like Denise Lewis, heptathlon champion, and Rafer Johnson, decathlon champion, are on hand to teach the importance of physical fitness.

Eager, patient assistant principals– old school principals like New Jersey’s Joe Clark and newer, hip generation of school leaders are leading school communities like never before. 

To help our students move to the next level, they have patient librarians and tolerant counselors, trustworthy, patient-registered nurses and a host of staff to help them excel. 

Though the issue of school police is a hot topic, students across the country are returning to buildings with a resourceful school police officer, whose modus operandi is arbitration first, then reading Miranda rights if necessary. 

And we can never forget the host of “Good Samaritans,” like volunteers, who keep the school machine running.  

As a professional educator, I feel proud when I see a student valedictorian or salutatorian with a high SAT score, receiving thousands of dollars in college scholarships and achieving their goals on Facebook. I first like their posts, then write my comments. 

No student is an island. It takes parents, teachers, the student and a large community of invested advocates to achieve academic excellence. 

A wise man said, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” 

Students, you are the laborers! Show your parents and teachers your “BEST” this breakthrough year of profound learning. 

James Jerome Hankin is an author, coach, Army veteran and a realtor. He is a retired vocational “shop” teacher of 34 years and a graduate of N.C. A&T State University.

The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO. Send letters to The Afro-American • 233 E. Redwood Street Suite 600G
Baltimore, MD 21202 or fax to 1-877-570-9297 or e-mail to editor@afro.com