Black History Month

Black History Month

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ArticleDuring the month of February. . .

. . . the Pottstown School District is going showcase exceptional members of our community for Black History Month. To partake in the celebration of this month, we will be posting, during the month, specific individuals who exemplify leadership and empower others.

To begin the month, please read this article CLICK HERE,  written by Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez, who serves as the President of the PA League of Urban Schools Caucus. In this article written for the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators he speaks to the importance of Black History Month acknowledging historical positive contributions and the education system outwardly and actively teaching cultural competence and the history, contributions, and value, of all races and ethnicities.

Taj Carter
Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Board Member, Signify Health, Inc.

What is something you wish someone had told you during your career journey?

  1. You control your own professional destiny. Never become complacent and allow other people or circumstances to dictate the pace or trajectory of your career development. Be perpetually proactive in forcing your way up the career ladder against all odds and opposition. Be proactive in seeing opportunities that others do not see. Be fearless in assuming leadership roles when others are afraid.

  2. Outwork everyone. Hard work eats raw talent for breakfast.
  3. Smile often. Make sure that others around you feel good about themselves, the team, and your shared mission.
  4. elf-doubt is a liar. Never believe it.
  5. Have fun. Life is too short to toil away without having a lot of fun.
  6. Never compromise your integrity, principles, or values. Ever.
  7. Dream bigger. There are no limits. You are capable of more than you realize. Go for it all. Never settle for less.

Dania Carter
Heart of Courage

hat is something you wish someone had told you during your career journey?

  1. Failure is just another opportunity to do it better. If you fail, don’t stay down on yourself. Figure out what you did wrong and how you can do it better next time. Don’t ever let “failure” stop you from achieving your greatness.

  2. Don’t put off your dreams. If you really feel in your heart that you want to do something, start planning TODAY. Then each day do something to bring you closer to your dream.
  3. Trust your gut. Block out all negative energy. Focus on your vision.
  4. It’s ok to ask for help. You don’t have to be an expert in everything. Utilize your resources.
  5. If you are going into the nonprofit world, you must have tough skin. Rejection will come in many forms, but you can not give up. Do not look for a “Thank You” – that is not why you went into serving the community. Just be proud of the work you are doing and know you are making an impact!!
  6. God has given us all a purpose in life. When you find your purpose, don’t let anything stop you. The road won’t always be easy, but the end result is the most gratifying feeling.

Jaime & Veronica Parris
Owners of Sunshine Cleaning Services
3rd Grade Teacher at Pottstown School District Frederick Douglass Fellow at West Chester University (WCU)
Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology at WCU 

What are the top 3 things you would want to pass on as advice to a young entrepreneur?

  1. It Starts with You: Be a Leader Not a Boss. As a business owner, understand that you are the end all be all. Everyone is looking for you to have answers. Do not expect others, such as employees, to work harder than you. You set the tone for your business. If you show your employees that it is alright not to give 100% on the job then expect them not to give 100%. Always remember that no one likes a boss but everyone needs a leader in their life. A boss manages their employees, while a leader empowers their employees, and encourages them to be innovative and to think independently. As you inspire others, you will receive 100% in return from the people you engage with.

  2. Be Kind. It sounds simple but it is extremely easy to not demonstrate kindness in the world we live, especially in the corporate realm. Remember that people are watching and they remember the interactions they have with you. FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER! Positive first impressions can lead to social cohesion. On the other hand, negative first impressions typically lead to biases and social prejudice. Treat every relationship, partnership, and friendship like they could take you to the next level, and never end those relationships, partnerships, and friendships on bad terms; thus, you never know when you will need to go back to them.

  3. Every Disappointment is a Blessing. You will hear "NO" countless times while you are trying to pursue your goals as a business owner. EVERY "no" is a blessing in some way. Hearing no should only be fuel to the fire to keep pursuing that goal until you receive a "yes." Being rejected can feel so devasting at times. Sometimes that rejection might be protecting you from making a deal with an unkind customer or might be lending you more time to develop a stronger plan for your business. In conclusion, a rejection is not a denial, it is only a delay. For every door that closes, there is another door waiting for you to walk through.

Jolie Martinez
 Taught for 19 years (15 years at PSD)
 Opened One Spark Fitness Nov 2019
 Started online E-Commerce business in summer 2019
 Diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2019
 Community Health and Dental Board Member

What are the top 3 things you would want to pass on as advice to a young entrepreneur?

  1. Never, ever, give up on you! As you go through life, you will have many experiences…the good, the challenging and the ugly. However, your circumstances do not define you. Circumstances are temporary. What I have found is you must stay true to yourself and never lose sight of your goals. I was diagnosed with breast cancer the same day my sister and I signed the lease for One Spark Fitness. Could I have backed out? Sure! But what would that accomplish? My goal was to own and operate a fitness studio with my sister and to help others see the value in movement. I was not going to allow a temporary circumstance to stop me from pursuing my dream. In fact, I used it to further fuel my passion to help others pursue a healthier lifestyle, not only through fitness classes, but by partnering with an online clean living company specializing in top rated products for the body and home. Moral of the story, don’t give up on you and take obstacles presented as opportunities to flourish. Through surgeries, chemotherapy, and a global pandemic, my two businesses grew. Keep going.

  2. Do it scared. You have to remember starting anything new is scary. Whether it’s a new school, a new job, or moving to a new city, it’s scary! However, don’t let that fear paralyze you to do nothing. Everyone hears the voice of doubt, “What if I fail?” It’s not that everyone doesn’t hear it, but YOU choose how to respond to it. My answer is, “What if I succeed?” When someone has regrets in life, it’s not because of their failures in life, but usually what they didn’t act on or pursue. I wish I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. I don’t ever want to miss out on what could be an amazing opportunity because I was too scared to try. I have never heard any entrepreneur say building their business was easy. It takes time, consistency, dedication, thick skin, tenacity, belief and a ton of hard work. However,if you never pursue it, you will live your life of regretting it. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Do it scared.

  3. You can only control what you can control. Shipments will be delayed. People will say no. You will lose customers. Team members will quit. Naysayers will talk. Stay the course. You may need to,change your mindset, read a book, seek advice, take a class, work long hours or pivot in your business, This is normal. Do not allow yourself to be consumed by factors outside of your control. You can only control what you can control. If you can’t do anything to change it, don’t stress about it. Find a solution or let it go.

Sadira Hueber
Certified School Nurse at Barth Elementary
Co-Owner of Juice Babes

As a graduate of the PHS Class of 2008, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. After becoming a registered nurse more than a decade ago, I knew I wanted to achieve more. As a healthy lifestyle advocate, my goal is to provide Pottstown and the surrounding communities with resources to support a healthier lifestyle. As a result of my goal, Juice Babes was created. Juice Babes is an all-natural juicing business that provides freshly pressed juices, cleanses, and wellness shots.

What are the top 3 things you would want to pass on as advice to a young entrepreneur?

  1. No business idea is too small, make a plan, set goals and execute accordingly.

  2. Always stay focused on what you believe in. You can achieve greatness when you believe in yourself and believe in your vision. If you do not believe in yourself, no one will.

  3. Don’t be afraid to take risks. There is no reward in life without risks.

Deborah Spence
Realtor at Fierce Realty Corp
Pottstown School Board Member

What are the top 3 things you would want to pass on as advice to a young entrepreneur?

  1. Find a mentor to help you stay on the right track and keep you accountable.

  2. Practice R and R. Resilience and Relentlessness. You must understand it's a huge mountain to climb to become successful as an entrepreneur, and the odds are against you, so you should prepare yourself mentally to stay the course and relentlessly pursue your dream no matter the odds.

  3. Hone your craft. I encourage you to learn everything you can about running the business. Listen to a podcast, read books, attend seminars, take continuing education or college classes on entrepreneurship, and learn by doing. Get out there and start your business today, do not wait. Best of luck!

Madam C.J. Walker

Today we celebrate the amazing Madam C.J. Walker, an African American Entrepreneur who built a business empire with her homemade line of hair products. She is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the first self-made female millionaire in America. Madam C.J. Walker was also a Philanthropist and a Political and Social Activist. Her innovations paved the way for African American women in the hair and cosmetics industry.

“Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” -- Madam C.J. Walker

Read more about Madam C.J. Walker here.

Dena Reeves, Owner
Deliah & Dean Market
219 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA

What are the top 3 things you would want to pass on as advice to a young entrepreneur?

While there is no magic formula for beings a successful entrepreneur, we have found these to be core values to our experience and success at Deliah & Dean Market:
1. Be honest and respectful,
2. Listen and communicate effectively; and,
3. Be flexible (resilient).

Mastering business skills such as good management, sales savvy and development of business plans go a long way, of course. But always remember that your personal qualities have great importance because that is how people truly connect with you!

Na'imah Rhodes 

Katina BeardenMs. Rhodes is a Pottstown High School Early Childhood Education Teacher, Mentor for Leading Ladies, and a Pottstown Alumni 

When asked what advice do you have for people looking to start their careers or become a leader, she responded:

"To anyone looking to become a leader and/or mentor, my advice is just do it! Very soon after graduating from Pottstown High School, I knew I wanted to work with teenagers. Unfortunately, it took me years to follow through on that desire. 

My roles as a teacher in the district and a mentor for Leading Ladies, were both a direct result of other people REALLY pushing me. I dealt with a lot of self-doubts, that I almost allowed to become a barrier. So please, trust yourself. If you know your intentions are genuine and well-meaning...just do it. Give yourself grace. You will make mistakes and that is part of the process. If you desire to work with the youth, be present and Encourage feedback from the youth to ensure consistent. There is a huge misconception that kids are not paying you are meeting your goals as a mentor. 

Finally, attention to the small things, but they notice everything. Always keep remember that your goal is quality, not quantity. your word, operate with love & respect, and be open-minded. Be If you only feel like you are making an impact on a honest about your struggles, it makes you human. Nothing will help small group of people, that is still something to a young person understand that they can overcome their obstacles celebrate. If my service only makes one person more than seeing the direct results of never giving up. Always realize they have a purpose, they are valued, they remain teachable. Remember that constructive criticism is crucial are loved, and that someone believes in for your success as a leader. them...then I will know I am where I need to be. "

Katina Bearden

Katina BeardenKatina Bearden is a Pottstown Alumni and an associate director in a top Fortune 500 Company, she is also the current present of the school board for Pottstown School District. 

When asked what advice do you have for people looking to start their careers or become a leader, she responded:

"Any person looking to start a career or enhance their leadership skills should first set their goal and desire to achieve it.  Start by reading, networking, listening and learning from everyone that you can.  Prioritize and plan activities around the goal.  Enjoy the mini successes and road bumps along the journey, as these help to build your knowledge-base and guide you to your destination.   Work smart and efficiently.  Do not focus on "can nots".  Instead, analyze your path, create best steps, and focus on "doing".  Learn from your mistakes, adjust and move forward. Surround yourself with positivity and remember,  leading also means encouraging others.  You are here for a purpose...Be a light!"

Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to desegregate her all-white school, William Frantz Elementary School, in Louisiana in 1960. She was just six years old when she defied a racist community to pursue her education and paved the way for other African-American children.

A lifelong activist for racial equality, in 1999, Ruby established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education. In 2000, she was made an honorary deputy marshal in a ceremony in Washington, DC.

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