TED Talks for Transformation: Todd Nesloney

This month I seek to provide inspiration for transformation by paying homage to some of the most impactful TED Talks available, related to education.  Success will be gained if more educators and campus/district administrators are drawn to not only watching the TED Talks mentioned, but also sharing them with others through conversations rooted in the Visioning work.  Last week, connections were made to Rita Pierson’s Every Kid Needs a Champion.

Now, Todd Nesloney brings us Kids Deserve It.

Mr. Nesloney spoke April 22, 2017 at TEDxTAMU and shared his message.  As the campus Principal of Webb Elementary in Navasota ISD, he embraces and models the role of Lead Learner.  We all may benefit from sharing the message of this advocate for students, teachers, and public education who calls Texas home.  In his talk, Mr. Nesloney shared 3 fundamental things that he believes kids deserve:

  1. Men involved in their lives
  2. To know that they matter
  3. A Cheerleader

After a first attempt to reach out to the men in the lives of his students through the Watch Dogs program, he organized his first annual Dinner with a Gentleman.   Advertised as a celebration of their involvement in the lives of these children, more than 580 men attended along side the kids who benefit directly from their relationships.  Every kid that attended was afforded a book to take with them to continue building the relationship with these men.  Guest speakers shared a message of thankfulness, a slide show was presented, and a student panel spoke.

Since this inaugural event, Mr. Nesloney has organized a second annual Dinner with a Gentleman.  He knows this is worth the cost of money and time, since the aim is for this to be the beginning of ongoing commitment to the campus for many of these men.

“Because we love you.”

Mr. Nesloney knows he cannot wait for his community to come to him, rather, he needs to go to them.  Because of this, in addition to the dinner, Mr. Nesloney organizes a hot dog meal and service opportunity at a local apartment complex in which many of his students live.  His teachers attend and serve as well a few times a year.  They reach out through these community events and interact with the families, not in an attempt to understand what it is like to live in poverty, but to work to realize the circumstances from which the students come to school.  Mr. Nesloney shares that the only ones who can truly understand poverty is those who live it every day.  This work brings to mind the premise: 1.d Schools must reach out to those who would educate at home or in small networks, and welcome their involvement in the school community.  

When asked why he would serve his community in this way, he responds, “We want them to know that we care about them and their kids more than a butt in a seat or a number on a page.”

“Kids deserve to know that adults care about them more than just showing up to school and learning about something educationally or following expectations that you have at home.”

The work Mr. Nesloney has begun reflects this premise: VI.c … it is essential that community/school partnerships be developed and supported that coordinate social services to students and families. Advocacy and collaboration with schools and community are steps toward strengthening the relationships between families and schools.

“Why SHOULDN’T we go out and serve the community?”

I encourage you to watch (or re-watch) Tedd Nesloney’s TED Talk and talk to someone about it.  Ask questions.  Challenge your thinking.

“You can never a reach a child’s head until you’ve reached their heart.”
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