Those were the words and sentiments echoing through the halls of Topper Academy on Tuesday morning as Dr. Adolph Brown, renowned educational consultant, came to teach students about overcoming adversity.
Brown is the author of acclaimed books, including the international best seller, Two Backpacks. He is also the President of the Business & Education Leadership Authority/Leadership & Learning Institute along with numerous other accolades. But Brown said that he got into education to understand individuals like himself, and he noted that his work with students are the days he enjoys the most.
“The highlight of my life is when I’m able to talk to young people that are traveling that path that I did,” Brown said. “I’m bringing the reality, but I am also bringing the love and the hope. I was a child in school that had one foot inside gifted education and one foot in alternative education.”
Topper Academy provides an alternate educational setting for both face-to-face and blended instruction to enable students to complete academic requirements in a self-paced, personalized environment.
Brown said that he was a product of alternative education and noted the extra emotional “backpacks” that kids are lugging around today. One of his messages to students was that he has been in tough situations and overcame a difficult upbringing to be successful in life.
“I’ve been to the point where if someone yelled at me, I felt like I couldn’t allow you to do that, and I had to show everyone that I wasn’t going to stand for that, but in the end I lost,” Brown told the students. “Because when I walked out of a classroom I lost out of my education, the teacher already had theirs.”
Topper Academy principal Melanie Riden-Bacon said that she was appreciative that Brown could spend time with her students and staff.
“Sometimes it’s better for a student to see someone that really can relate to where they’ve been and what they’ve been through,” Riden-Bacon said. “We have a lot of compassion for the students here and we care about them, but at the same time we have to balance that love, care and compassion with accountability. They need to know that we still have the expectations of them making something of themselves and attaining their diploma.”
Brown shared in that hard-love mentality that Riden-Bacon mentioned and said that his approach maybe a little bit more stern then other people.
“I’m not the person that caudles,” Brown said through a smile. “I’m the person that says that every child needs a person to put one arm around their shoulder and one foot in their anatomy. I’m that guy. Because I think reality has to be a part of the solution.”
Brown shared stories of his upbringing in a single-mother home and the murder of his oldest brother when he was 11. His educational presentation included a lengthy question and answer session where students were encouraged to quiz Brown about his own choices and life goals. He said he hoped the message would show students that they shouldn’t make excuses for their current predicament due to past circumstances.
“I want to let them know that there is nothing wrong with them, in that sense that what you are going through does not mean it’s the end of the world,” Brown said. “It doesn’t mean that you can’t change. It doesn’t mean that life won’t get better from this point on. This is just a season, and I use my story and other examples of people that I know, that had those storms.”
“Storms in life are normal,” Brown continued. “However, when you choose to create your own storms – and that is what a lot of young people are doing today – there are enough storms period. But when you create your own, we’ve got to get to the bottom of that.”