Bumps and Seams

Author Inspires I PROMISE School Students
Posted on 07/23/2021
Image of I Promise StudentWill Clark IV, author of the inspirational blog Bumps and Seams, began meeting with IPS (I PROMISE School) scholars during online learning to share his insights and experiences learned through NCAA.

Coach Will, as he is known by IPS scholars, joined fourth- and fifth-grade online classrooms weekly to discuss how to transform life's daily challenges into opportunities to learn and grow. Similar to his blog, he used basketball analogies and life lessons to inspire students to embrace challenges and strive to find their purpose.

While working full time and attending graduate school at Towson University in Maryland, Coach Will remains dedicated to serving community. In addition to volunteering at IPS, he mentors adolescent boys through Delta Sigma Theta’s EMBODI (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence) program and volunteers at the local veteran affairs center. The students at IPS immediately connected with Coach Will, and his impact became much greater than a simple guest speaker.

Coach Will's visits began as a “special guest” in December 2020 to spice up online learning during a weekly social emotional learning (SEL) lesson. But, after the very first session, he was determined to do more. "I wanted to be more than simply a positive role model for our students. I wanted to build relationships with them and help them discover the beauty within their own challenges and experiences," Coach Will said.

"It wasn't long," he added, "before I began working directly with teachers to plan content and activities that would keep students engaged and were aligned to IPS’s SEL monthly focus. Together, we created lessons that allowed a platform for students to be reflective and interact with topics such as perseverance, empathy, seeing their own greatness and how to turn adversity into strength."

IPS teachers extended these SEL topics into their academic lessons by integrating topics or by using Clark's words to encourage students' learning. Fifth-graders, who remained online, were inspired to turn their current challenges into positive and motivational statements or mantras. Clark says that mantras like “I am the person I choose to be” or “I can get through anything” allow students to remain resilient and positive to better endure future challenges and adversity.

Most importantly is the response from IPS students to Coach Will.

"Thank you for being a virtual life coach. I learned how to trust my talent." ~ Harmoni

"When you told me to believe in myself, I did. Thank you for teaching me." ~ Amariae

"Thank you, Coach Will, for teaching us how our words mean something." ~ Jordan

"I love you like a brother who I can look up to. Thank you dearly. I love you, and I know you love me. I'm crying tears of joy; thank you for being my friend." ~ Kris

Watch the "I Am Video" >>.

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