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To My Students...

Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning
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I became an educator because I wanted to impact the lives of students in the same ways that my teachers did for me. See, I owe so much to the educators who invested their time, care, and love in me. They saw something in me and never gave up, no matter how many reasons I gave them to do so (believe me, they had PLENTY of reasons).

What I never expected was the impact that my students would have on me as a person. Not one day has passed where I have not been in awe of at least one of my students. I have seen high levels of excellence in academics, athletics, arts, and other areas. I have witnessed students overcoming the highest odds stacked against them to overcome and be successful. I have worked with so many kids who deal with things that would make the average person crumble into pieces.

To say that my students inspire me on a daily basis is an understatement. They reinforce my why for being an educator every single day. They challenge me to be the absolute best that I can. They are the reason I decided to move into the realm of politics. They have unknowingly become my motivation and are the inspiration behind the Our Future First movement.

Over the years, we have been through a lot. I remember an 8th grade class being very upset about remarks that their building principal made during an awards assembly. When they came back to our room, they suggested writing a letter and having the entire 8th grade sign it. They dictated the letter to me as I typed it for them. They distributed it to their peers and explained the cause. They presented it to the their principal. This was all them, with some positive encouragement from me to do what they thought was right and just.

There are so many instances where students stood up for what is right and voiced their thoughts and opinions. The one that changed my life trajectory occurred during this school year and took place right after the election of Donald Trump. We were celebrating Veteran’s Day in 8th grade and each teacher picked a theme to instruct. I had the lesson entirely planned out until I saw the looks on the students faces the day after the presidential election.

Their faces were wrought with fear, concern, anger, disbelief, shock, and many other emotions that I know a lot of adults were also dealing with. How could I ignore their feelings, teach a lesson that had nothing to do with their issues, and expect them to care? It was one of those times where the planned lesson went in the trash so that we could have one of my “real talks”. Little did I know at the time that these conversations would lead me to pursue a major political office.

When my students entered the classroom, I gave one simple instruction: Write however you were feeling about the election on the board. I did NOT censor their language or thoughts. I walked out of the room so that they knew I would not see which student wrote what. When I returned to the room, I read everything on the board out loud to the group (even if there was profanity). I needed to speak their thoughts so that they could see them come to life and know that their words have power.

The conversations that followed were raw, real, and incredibly powerful. The power was with the students in the room that day and the open sharing provided glimpses into their souls and fears. I never imagined that my students would share as much or as in-depth as they did. I also did not think that their thoughts and feelings would motivate me to do more in this world, but here I am.

Most educators start off in the classroom and then move on to positions that move them out. When I left the class to become a principal, I rationalized it by thinking that I would be able to impact an entire school on a larger scale than just teaching a few classes. At the end of the day, educators want to impact as many students as they can and change as many lives as possible. That is why we do what we do.

That is why I am planning on leaving schools entirely within the next year or so to run for an office in the federal legislative branch. There is so much work required in education and it is clear that the Department of Education and federal government need as much help as possible. We need educators to make major decisions about education. When I win my election, I will work to make an impact on a scale I never thought I would.

To my students, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives.Thank you for listening. Thank you for encouraging. Thank you for being the change that our world so desperately needs. Thank you for believing in me to bring positive change to our world. Thank you for inspiring me and the Our Future First movement. Thank you for seeing the potential in me, even if I did not always see it in myself. Thank you for pushing me to pursue this. Thank you for your nonstop love and inspiration.

I am not the person I am today without every one of you. I am doing this for you. I am strengthened by knowing that you will be with me on this journey. We will be the change that we wish to see. We are going to put Our Future First and ensure that this world works for all of us.

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Born and raised in Cumberland County, New Jersey, Sean not only has remained, but has continued to grow with his community. He now resides in the same county with his wife and their two young sons. Sean currently serves as an administrator at Camden’s Promise Charter School, where he focuses on the professional development of teachers and building various social-emotional skills with students. Graduating from Rutgers University with an undergraduate degree in Communication as well as a graduate degree from the University of Scranton in Educational Administration helped open the doors to what has now become nearly a decade long career in education.


 


 


 


As a result of connecting with people everyday of all ages, ethnicities, cultures and beliefs, Sean has learned how to listen and meet the individualized needs of different groups of people. In order to help organize parents and educators to come together in academic spaces, it has required him to search for innovative, functional, and inclusive ways to solve problems.


 


 


 


Despite Sean's childhood aspirations of one day becoming an attorney, he has since become an unwavering advocate for positive youth development and education. Growing up, Sean experienced difficulty financially and emotionally in an unstable household while also battling a sometimes crippling learning disability (ADHD). School became both a place of refuge and a source of trouble for Sean. If not for certain teachers and school faculty encouraging him as a young person, he would not have pursued higher education and would not have been able to impact countless students the way he does today.


 


 


 


Throughout his career as an educator in New Jersey, Sean has based every decision solely on what is best for youth and their futures. He has worked to create new, effective programs as well as supports for students and parents addressing social issues. Sean has demonstrated his student-first approach by never being afraid to privately and publicly question decisions that impact teachers, students, and the educational process. As a result, he has been able to create strong, lasting relationships across our state with the students, families, and communities that he has served.


 


 


 


As a leader in education, Sean has rooted his success in incorporating three major values that he applies to every facet of his life: honesty, integrity, and transparency. All great leaders exhibit honesty regardless of how difficult a situation may be. In these times, we need someone who will honor the trust of their constituents, despite possible backlash. Sean has displayed his commitment to integrity by maintaining a strong moral basis in all decisions, never being swayed by personal gain, and combating corruption wherever it exists. Transparency is also something that is not frequently witnessed in politics. Without it, it is easy for elected officials to lose touch with the people they serve. Having worked in education, Sean understands the power of collective responsibility while encouraging collaboration and the inclusion of diverse opinions to impact change. His unique background matched with his life experiences have allowed him to truly understand the struggles and needs of so many American people.


 


 


 


As the next United States Congressman from the state of New Jersey, Sean promises to apply the most effective policies to positively influence the collective growth of all New Jerseyans and Americans. He intends to only put the best interests of his constituents, state, and country first, regardless of how unpopular that may make him within the political machine. This is how we give politics, power, and our country back to the people. This is how we place our future first.

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Guest Thursday, 21 September 2017