There was a song that I vaguely remember from my childhood and School House Rock Days. It is titled, The Great American Melting Pot.
This song, though missing a colorful representation of African Americans and Native Americans, was the premise of which American culture was shaped and formed in some sense. There were no immigration papers, and it was an open policy for all who could merely arrive here by boat. I used to unnerve my brother when I would awake every morning and sing the National Anthem (let’s leave out the historical context of the reason this song was written; I desire to stay in my euphoric state for this blog). On Friday, a colleague shared that he had officially become an American citizen. Considering the demographic I serve, as a technologist and corporate motivator, I asked his permission to share his photo and his story. So…enjoy my colleague Armando in our Q & A.
ME: Armando, on March 29, you became an American Citizen, this is a fantastic journey. How long have you been in the US? Where are you from originally?
A: I have been in the US for almost 25 years. I’m originally from Mexico City.
ME: When and why did you come to America?
A: I came in September 1993 as a child. My father died in 1990, and my mother did not have any formal education. During this time the government started privatizing many factories because of NAFTA’s new regulations. My mother lost her job in the same year, and she had no other option but to immigrate to the US.
ME: What opportunities do you have in the US that were not available in Mexico?
A: One of the opportunities I did not have in Mexico was an education. After losing her job, my mother was not able to keep paying for both my brother’s and my education.
ME: Not looking for a right or wrong viewpoint, but what do you see as major cultural differences in the US vs. your home of origin?
A: I want to say a major change was the language. For me, it took me a few years to start communicating and adapting to American culture. Other than language, I noticed that in the United States, Americans spend more time in their profession, so much so that in some cases, work is first and second is family. Children are often raised more independently and are encouraged to be independent of their family.
ME: Do you think you will take your skills to your country origin in the future?
A. I don’t see my future back in Mexico. I have my family here, and I don’t see my wife and kids moving to Mexico.
ME: Some people frown on immigrants who are not “legalized” citizens. With Congress being inactive or slow on DACA, what do you recommend for DACA recipients who are here of many ethnicities and countries, and they’re striving for US citizenship?
A: To all DACA recipients, I want to share my personal story. After graduating from high school, I did not have many options to continue my education since I was undocumented. My only options were work in a factory like the rest of my family or go back to Mexico and try to continue my education, but neither of these two options was an alternative for me.
I wanted to go to college and pursue a higher education. I decided to attend my community college, and while attending college, I worked in a restaurant to be able to pay for my education and help my family. After four years I earned two Associate’s Degrees: one in Computer Science and the second in Arts. It was not an easy accomplishment. In 2010 I was able to fix my immigration status and started working in my field.
ME: You are graduating from college with your degree in Information Technology and have become a US Citizen in the same year, what does this mean for you and your family?
A: After fixing my immigration status I was able to go back to finish my BA. During this long journey with many sacrifices, I never lost faith in my dreams. With the support of my wife and my community, in fall of 2018, I will be finishing my BA in Computer Network Security.
This year also gave me the chance to accomplish another dream–becoming a US Citizen finally. This means so much to me. Now I want to keep helping my community and many other dreamers.
I want to thank Armando for allowing me to share his truly inspiriational story. It is one of many and we hope and pray, there are more to come.
Armando is a technologist for a major educational institution in Chicago, IL.
I was asked by my cousin (we actually met on Facebook) to give her keys to success as she continues her collegiate career in an online environment. I was excited she decided to continue on to a Gradate program after completing her Bachelors’ within the same year. She’s starting an online journey so I thought I’d share “best practices” that have lead to my success as an online student.
90 percent of my Associates’ Degree is from online classes. Here are a few thoughts/practices I use as templates for success. As working professionals, it’s very important for us to use judgement and wisdom when engaging in online classes.
- Finding the right class.
- Ensure your class is not a hybrid where there is a split portion between online and onsite requirement
- Ensure the class(es) you take line up with your particular goals and degree.
- Utilize your academic advisor. I would have saved about 12 credit hours early on if I had done this.
- Find out your professor in advance and do research on their teaching style. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into professor rating sites. However, the particular link has not led me astray.
- Find out what book you need but wait for a final word from your professor, which is why I recommend finding out your instructor and emailing them in advance.
- Use Amazon to rent books. Way more cost effective!
- Download your syllabus and print it out immediately.
- Cross off your assignment as they happen
- Ensure you put all your deadlines on your calendar immediately and setup reminders
- Syllabus’ can shift often so ensure you keep a tight look on your professors announcements
- Balance your family, your job, and your education
- Be intentional in your communication. Even though you are online and not in a classroom, your home is your classroom.
- If you’re utilizing Blackboard at your Learning Management System (LMS), download the Mobile Learn App.
- Subscribe to all discussions. Email can be a bit cumbersome when people are updating but I find it valuable so I know when to respond to post
- If your class has exams, ensure you find out if there is a webcam requirement. If so, you’ll have to pay for the software monitoring system at your own cost, typically $54 – $75
- Take what you can handle. Adult Learning is a life journey not a quickie. If you are working and have a family I don’t recommend taking more than 2 classes. Ensure you adjust to the demands of your family, your job, and other responsibilities you may have.
You will either be your own best friend or own your worst enemy with online classes. You have to be disciplined. You are the professor, the teacher, the student, and the leader of your own success. I’ve had great success and I am only stressed when I don’t follow 100% of the playbook I listed above.
These are a few tips I shared with my cousin. Feel free to comment and add more.
I am not a perfect dad. If the cameras where rolling in my house last week, even while in a class led by a good friend on godly fathering, you may have even questioned my day to day life. It was one of those moments when a father reacts in emotion and not under the guise of the Holy Spirit. Yet, a few hours later I apologized to my wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent daughter. 12 year-olds know how to push buttons.
Our final class was a couple of days later. “So brothers, how did it go last week?” To which I confessed, “I blew it but I grew it”. That translates to, I blew what I learned the previous week but grew in what I learned the previous week also. One of the things we discussed on being Godly Father’s was owning our mistakes with our children.
Our theme scripture comes from Ephesians 6:4, which translates in The Message Bible, “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand an lea them in the way of the Master”. In conjunction with the previous text, Proverbs 22:6 (train up a child) and I Timothy 3:4-5 where key scriptures in our development and training process. The three goals of the class are as follows:
- Educate men on the distinction between a “good father” and a “godly father”
- Provide practical principles that define godly character and development
- Create an apparatus where men can commit to being a godly father
- Culminate this apparatus with a Commitment Letter to our families addressed to the wife and children of each represented household.
My cousin Arlene raised her two children along with my brother and me. Years before she passed on to Glory we had a heart to heart and with tears in her eyes said, “I messed up with you all, especially you, and I’m sorry”. (Had to pause after crying a little myself while typing this). Ownership is so key on journey of becoming great parents. So, we’ve begun an intentional journey together as fathers. 6 men with 15 children between us have vowed to share our trials, our successes, our failures, and our financial planning for their future, with several other strategic commitments with a focus on seven developmental areas.
7 Practical Principles: A Guide to Train and Point my Child in the Direction of the Lord
by Elder Marlon Medious
- Imparting principles of life: Forgiveness, apologizing, mercy, truth, and the living the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5)
- Teaching godly habits
- Protecting against moral dangers through appropriate discipline
- Instilling daily prayer
- Leading Bible Study at least once a month in the home
- Engaging in interactive church participation
- Explaining how decisions are made regarding their lives and choices
Proverbs 20:7 (AMP) reads, “The righteous man who walks in integrity and lives life in accord with his [godly] beliefs–How blessed [happy and spiritually secure] are his children after him [who have his example to follow].”
As I close out this blog, I will share what we have in place now and will end with an image of the Commitment Letter to my wife and daughter. If you would like a template to draft your own please email me.
- We have started a five day devotional serious on Becoming An Intentional Father on the YouVersion Bible App.
- After this is completed, we will kickstart our course over 7 weeks with The Father’s Plan: A Bible Study for Dads by Robert Wolgemuth.
We are not looking at this as consecutive weeks because we realize that life and family aligns with life and family situations. However, we will be intentional in our sharing, our cause, our purpose, and our growth.
A major thanks to my brother Marlon Medious for pulling us together for this phenomenal training. He is a true friend, confidant, and brother in the Gospel.
I interviewed 5 times at the Noble Network of Charter Schools 7 years ago. I remember going from cracking jokes at a friends house when my phone rang to instantly transforming into business mode. It was my first call back from a job I applied for two weeks prior. It was a 30 minute phone interview and the rest is history.
Fear kicked in. I didn’t feel qualified for the job and was ready to turn down an opportunity that The Lord answered after all this time. Strange how we so quickly revert back to that dark comfortable place. Was I ready to rejoin the work force? Yes. Was I ready to work for this organization? Based on the job description, no! Yet, a sermon from my pastor on Sunday morning stated, “Who are you to close a door that God opened? Don’t put him in your box, He’s way larger than it can hold.”
I started as a technology manager (not the listed title when I applied) in 2010. I run hard. Earned the name Hulk Smash. Won our first ever MVP award named the Hulk Smash Award. I almost didn’t win. My boss said I came close to losing because I didn’t develop a good work life balance. I didn’t for the first five years but I am not hear to talk about all of that.
7 years later, I am the Director of Information Technology for the number one charter school in America. I am faced with that same fear everyday. I really don’t know how long this will last but I love where I am. I have an uncanny devotion to people I work for and an uncanny devotion to my team members. I am working to rebrand myself. The Hulk Smash has to go. I have to become a master of so many corporate deals, policies, financials, terminology, and people management.
A new challenge is upon me and it is unfamiliar, it is uncomfortable, it is uncertain. Yet, I will do what I grow to do daily, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. I am not sure what’s next for me but I know it’s beyond being a director of technology. I am in a place where I get to impact African American and Latino American lives. I am in a place where I get to work and see a very incredible organization do very incredible things. I work with teachers I love, students I serve, principals I support, co-workers I would die for, chiefs I answer to, and a very special person who shall remain nameless. He’s a man I have grown to admire, be unnerved by, challenged by, be supported by and ultimately to serve with. Who would have thought a meeting at Starbucks would yield an opportunity to be Super.
A part of me is hesitant in this new role. Yet, I have incredible people who support me, a former boss, a right and left arm at work, and an incredible team member who I hope to call friend one day with her critical feedback, insight, and precision.
7 years is said to be the year of completion, a time to move forward. For Tony Briscoe, it is a time to grow and I am just getting warm.
There is no doubt that test are required in this world. We have them everyday of our lives be them via academia or life, test are glued to the fabric of our makeup. Standardized testing, however, has taken on a new face throughout the country in the form of PARCC testing. CPS and ISBE clashed last school year but ultimately CPS buckled with threats of losing serious funding. You should also note that the FEDS limited E-Rate funding across the country causing many school districts to front the money for new infrastructure projects.
In the Chicago Tribune a staggering look at the results of PARCC (first glance) has given a dark look at the pending results that we were told “didn’t matter”. It wasn’t enough that PARCC was partially administered in conjunction with other state mandated exams which added to the pressure of academic success for our children, but also the amount of instruction time that was lost during this “trial” that no teacher was satisfied with are gone forever. I’m all for change. Many people in this day and age are all for change. We need to change how we teach and engage our students. We can either continue down a path of “teaching to the test to prove” or “teaching to the heart to learn”.
PARCC to Prison is a very strong statement but it’s one that I will stand by. We can’t have a common core when we have African and Latino American’s that don’t live common lives, don’t live in common communities, and surely don’t have common technology. We are consistent as a country and driving a level playing field without fully understanding the socio-economic impact in some communities neighborhoods. Our Zone Improvement Plan (ZIP CODE) has lead to a path of isolation, discrimination and manipulation. Don’t believe for a second that some Prison Industrial Complex investor is not sitting in some boardroom planning the next land development project scope for a penitentiary. If factual that they base future incarceration off 3rd Grade reading scores then they will do more to ensure a community stays barren and economically depraved to indirectly force our young people to make decisions that are not in their best interest. It’s only part of the picture but still part of the plan.
Don’t twist my words, I actually worked with my daughter on PARCC but as a technologist when I sat down and began to engage it on a high school level I felt cheated. Granted I’m in my 40’s and had a long route through my academic journey, I was in junior college at 35 taking basic algebra with students that just finished high school. Scary thought, right?!
PARCC is about thinking before the answer; it’s about cognitive mathematics and learning the thought process of a solution without guessing an answer. At the end of the day standardized testing sends a message of, “you’re just not smart enough”. Unfortunately we are PARCC’d on the wrong side and when politicians decide they know how to teach students better than educators we slide down a very slippery slope and more than likely African-Americans and Latino-Americans will end up on the short end of the exam!