It’s the time of year again when we congratulate the current class of graduates. But while they will all receive the same piece of paper, we recognize that for those students who have overcome adversity, the accomplishment means something different. We’d like to take a moment to lift up our own class of graduates:
8 years with RE
Brunswick Job Corps
6 years with RE
Tennessee State University
8 years with RE
7 years with RE
Atlanta Technical College
All of them are long-time members of the RE village. Between them, they received more than $200k in scholarship money. They are different people with different backgrounds, but despite that they all share at least one important distinction: they are all Black boys.
At a glance, this may not seem like a significant distinction, but a recent study by the Yale University Child Center found that from kindergarten through college, Black boys receive harsher punishments, lower grades, and less attention than any other demographic. Not only are Black boys suspended up to five times more often than white students, they are also much more likely to be placed in special education classrooms. 80% of all special education students are either Black or Hispanic. Some of these students have legitimate learning disabilities, but many are simply being kicked out of their classrooms by teachers who are unable, don’t know how or are unwilling to take the time to connect with them.
At RE, we recognize that academic achievement is a long game, especially for Black boys. We also recognize that for students who are used to being either singled out or overlooked, respect has to be earned. That’s why our development model places such a heavy emphasis on relationships. Before students are willing to do the work for you, they must see that you’re willing to do the work with them. These four young men are a beautiful example of where that kind of emotional investment can lead.
At RE, we recognize that college is not a part of everyone’s path. For some, it might be trade school, or transitioning directly into the workforce. You don’t develop trust with students by projecting your expectations onto them, you do it by listening and providing the guidance necessary for them to create their own expectations, then holding them accountable.
We’d like to congratulate all of the 2022 graduates. It’s been a difficult few years and you’ve all gone through a lot to get to where you are. We see you. As for our own graduates, we want them to know that the relationship doesn’t stop here. They will always be a part of the RE village, no matter how far they go. We can’t wait to see them take flight.