The ABC’s of graduating from high school

Graduating from high school can be really easy for some and really difficult for others. For me, it was really easy because of the guidance from my mother, father, coaches, teachers and church family; I was able to follow the ABC’s.

In my hometown of Atlanta, GA, 60% of black males will not graduate from high school on time or at all from Atlanta Public Schools (APS). L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) has partnered with APS since 2007 to change that story. Click here to check our success.


I’m proud to say that I had perfect attendance from kindergarten through 12th grade. People ask me if I ever got sick and I don’t remember being so sick that I couldn’t go to school. My mom stayed on top of immature things that I would do to get sick like making sure that I got plenty of rest. Staying on the phone or hanging out with friends on a school night wasn’t happening. We hardly ever had junk food in the house and I never skipped meals.

I spend a lot of time in a lot school cafeterias and I witness students not eating breakfast or lunch. Not eating properly and trying to perform well in school is like trying to drive from Atlanta to Miami with a gallon of gas. It ain’t happening! In addition to breakfast and lunch, Atlanta Public Schools now has an amazing program called Supper On Site that provides dinner to APS students.


I was fortunate to be educated by men and women who took the time to connect with me first before trying to lay down the rules, etc.

My mom and dad didn’t spare the rod on discipline by any means. Neither did my relatives or coaches. It takes a village to raise a child and in my case that included discipline – expectations and consequences.

At school, my teachers knew what I valued and who I valued and they used that as a tool to effectively mentor me. 

Course study

As a child baseball was my favorite sport and the batting average was the golden standard to determine your ability. When I realized that grades at school worked the same way, I began to take education more seriously. My grades were a reflection of my character and I knew that I couldn’t be successful at anything if I was average at best.

As the co-founder of L.E.A.D., a Pathway2Empowerment organization, we serve hundreds of male students that have academic struggles. We are committed to inspiring them by exposing them to what their futures can be; ultimately, the motivation must come from within.

“You can’t even toast bread without being educated about how to do it.” ~C.J. Stewart

When I was a student, the better my attendance and behavior, the higher my grades were. Sure there were times when I pressed the envelope and did immature things, but I had instinctive, committed educators who connected with me well enough to get me back in line – quickly. (Shout out to Ms. Annette Dotson who took no mess from no one. Period.)