The 150th Speaker Series wrapped up on Thursday evening with Mr. Geoffrey Canada, our Capstone Speaker. Mr. Canada is one of the most renowned experts on education and elaborated on the global impact of education in the rapidly changing realm of technology, economy, and politics. In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., Mr. Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. King was proud to close our 150th Speaker Series with a packed house for Mr. Canada.
Mr. Canada addressed the large crowd in the PAC commenting that he still feels like this is the most wonderful country in the world, but stressed that "I am watching it slowly commit suicide". Mr. Canada adds, "The fact that you're born in the wrong zip code should not mean that the deck is stacked against you. In places in this country where people don't get an education, we make sure there's a jail cell to put them in." He continues, "It takes $5,000 a year to "save a kid" but people tell him that is not scalable - meanwhile, takes $60K a year to keep them in jail. We each have to do more - help one kid, provide one scholarship, more outreach. All of us - we're all in this together and we all have to do more."
Ben Hoke, Director of Development, led the 150th Speaker Series Committee and secured Mr. Canada's visit. He was extremely pleased with the success of the evening and adds, "Mr. Canada encourages all Americans, especially those fortunate to be in private schools, to advocate for transformative school change by taking a stand in our communities and expecting the best from all students, no matter the zip code."
Lise Leist, Dean of Community Affairs, reflected on the messaging of the evening. "Mr. Canada delivered a clear message of empowering all to become next generation leaders, to develop resilience, and make healthy choices. Together we can empower all children to reach their full potential."
Many Faculty members were attendance for the event:
- Ken Spall, US Physics Teacher: "Mr. Geoffrey Canada discussed the continuing crisis in public education and how all Americans must drive change through competition, principally between public and charter schools. He stressed the power of high expectations for students, parents and teachers. Mr. Canada's unwavering position is that all of his students at Harlem Children's Zone will go to college, and that teachers will help students achieve regardless of the student's economic and family situation."
- Lindsay Wyman, LS Director of Assessment and Instruction: "I thought Mr. Canada was charismatic and engaging, but more importantly, he was real about what is facing the world of education today. And not just the world of private education in Fairfield County, but education in the United States as a whole, which directly impacts all of us from the youngest student to the Head of School here at King. We are so fortunate as a community to have had Mr. Canada speak to us, and I hope that we can continue to follow his mission as we follow our own mission as a school going forward."
- Pete Smith, US AP Economics Teacher: "Mr Canada is a very impressive speaker - funny, thoughtful, and provocative. Although his message was full of moral and ethical implications, the message (to me at least) was all about economics. Americans and their elected representatives need to understand and embrace the profound incentive they have to break down parochial interests and work together to solve the problem of chronic youth under-education and under-employment."
In closing, Mr. Canada stressed that we never know what will save a child, "fight for kids who are not our kids". He finished by reciting his poem, "Take a Stand":
Maybe before we didn't know,
That Corey is afraid to go
To school, the store, to roller skate.
He cries a lot for a boy of eight.
But now we know each day its true
That other girls and boys cry too.
They cry for us to lend a hand.
Time for us to take a stand.
And little Maria's window screens
Keeps out flies and other things.
But she knows to duck her head,
When she prays each night 'fore bed.
Because in the window comes some things
That shatter little children-dreams.
For some, the hourglass is out of sand.
Time for us to take a stand.
And Charlie's deepest, secret wishes,
Is someone to smother him with kisses
And squeeze and hug him tight, so tight,
While he pretends to put up a fight.
Or at least someone to be at home,
Who misses him, he's so alone.
Who allowed this child-forsaken land?
Look in the mirror and take a stand.
And on the Sabbath, when we pray,
To our God we often say,
"Oh Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham,
I come to better understand,
How to learn to love and give,
And live the life you taught to live."
In faith we must join hand in hand.
Suffer the children? Take the stand!
And tonight, some child will go to bed,
No food, no place to lay their head.
No hand to hold, no lap to sit,
To give slobbery kisses, from slobbery lips.
So you and I we must succeed
In this crusade, this holy deed,
To say to the children in this land:
Have hope. We're here. We take a stand!