James Mcleod visited my school on Friday, May 3, for my Third period 10 o’clock class. He arrived early and met the Principal and some staff before coming to my room. His personality was dynamic and cordial to all the students informally greeting them upon entering my class. Once his Presentation began, my students who can be a tough crowd, listened in rapt attention as he showed 2 brief videos and a picture slide while he narrated his life and struggles. Interspersed with his inspiring speech were multiple comments to the students to believe in themselves and that if he was able to become successful so could they. James next read his newly published, autobiographical, motivational children’s book to the class while a copy with illustrations was passed around.
My class of 20 students were spellbound. I knew that James had touched a chord and connected with them. After the book was read there was a question and answer period which took a solid 15 minutes. Afterward, James and my students took pictures and exchanged information. My feedback from the students was that James was “real” “ inspiring” and some of my students have followed up on James offer to keep in contact. One of my students is deeply interested in music so James spoke to him about Dj’ing. Another student talked to James about the Modeling industry and James went out of his way to give her advice and information.
I have known James for 2 years now. We met at The NY sports club where he is a personal trainer. When I told him I was a teacher at a transfer alternative school James immediately offered to come in to speak to my students. At first, I was worried because my students have a troubled history academically and socially with many people coming in and out of their lives. I am so happy to say that they behaved wonderfully with sympathy and support and that James reciprocated by inspiring them and by acting with the greatest professionalism and respect. My Administration and other staff that was present all agreed that we would recommend James to go to any school to speak to students. To have students believe that they can have a bright future as long as, like James said, they believe in themselves and put the hard work in. We all need a role model we can relate to and a mentor who can and will be there for us. James thank you for being that Role model/ Mentor to my students.
Cordially, Mr. DiMaggio Social studies Teacher Harlem Renaissance H.S.