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Marlon Peterson #BePrecedential
All of us in attendance—teachers, advisors, tutors, and administrators—were incredibly moved by your narrative and your messages. Your story had an enormous emotional impact on us, but also a practical one. We were collectively stirred to think more deeply about what we can actually do (not just talk about) to serve our students as full human beings. This includes how we can ask the right questions, build the strongest and most embracing classroom/program communities, etc.—to help understand the complex individuals who come into our classrooms who want and deserve to be supported holistically, so that they can be successful at school and in life. Your thoughtful and honest answers during the Q&A portion of your visit with us were also really helpful. We especially thankful for the effort that you clearly put into learning about our program, our “mission,” and our students, as well as understanding your audience that day and our conference theme. Because of this, many teachers and advisors were able to make particularly powerful connections between the ideas you imparted and the remainder of the day’s activities…and the connections keep coming! A testament to the power of your words is how many staff members came over to me (and to others who helped plan and facilitate the day’s activities) to say how much they appreciated your speech, and how many continue to do this. Many staff members have asked me how they can reach out to you to thank you personally and/or to ask follow-up questions. I appreciate your willingness to allow me to share your e-mail address with them. Lastly, I want to say that I know that day was particularly rough for you, given your friend’s passing. I am thankful that you still came to speak, and I would bet that your friend was as touched by your goodness during his life,
Dear Marlon, People are still talking about Saturday’s Teacher-to-Teacher Conference, and especially your keynote address. It was a fantastic day, and we are incredibly grateful to you for your contribution. Your message about the power of writing—as a way into oneself, as a way to inspire others and help them advocate for themselves, as a change agent in a person’s own life and in the lives of others, as a means to leadership—is one that we know our teachers will carry into their classrooms. Our teachers work with some of the city’s most disadvantages learners, and we know that your words were powerful, hopeful and inspiring to them. This was our first year offering two keynote addresses, and the ways that your and Kylene’s speeches connected were wonderful; in the morning, she spoke about the relationship between privilege and literacy, and in the afternoon you spoke about writing as a means to empower. You helped us not only reach our teachers in profound ways, but to re-shape the conference as it previously existed to be even stronger moving forward. As a community, we really appreciated, in addition to your words, the thoughtfulness of your suggested readings. We are grateful that we came to you through Kiese Laymon, and on Saturday, that our participants were able to come to him, through you. While we were unable to order advance copies of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, we have already added it to the reading list for participants in our summer programs. Mallory and Jane