17Twenty

E165 || Nakia Douglas || Divine Appointments

January 29, 2024 Season 5 Episode 4
E165 || Nakia Douglas || Divine Appointments
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17Twenty
E165 || Nakia Douglas || Divine Appointments
Jan 29, 2024 Season 5 Episode 4

This week's guest is Nakia Douglas, Executive Director for the Transition Resource Action Center.

Hailing from South Dallas, Nakia tells a story that resonates with the heartbeat of a community poised on the brink of transformation. Interwoven with the unwavering strength of his mother and the life-altering embrace of education, his story promises to stir souls and awaken minds to the power of opportunity and mentorship.  

Douglas's narrative is a compelling mosaic of pivotal moments, emotional challenges, and the kindling of a leader's spirit. His journey of adaptation and leadership, underscored by a deep-rooted faith, reminds us that life's greatest lessons and opportunities often come disguised as adversities.

Join us, and be inspired by a man who is rooted in the belief that every child deserves a chance to succeed.

We'd love to hear from you! Send us a text message here!

|| Connect with Us ||

Check out all our episodes on all major streaming platforms, and further engagement with the 17Twenty crew on social media at:

https://17twenty.buzzsprout.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/17twenty
https://www.instagram.com/17twentypodcast

Grab your copy of the Mountain Mover Manual: How to Live Intentionally, Lead with Purpose, and Achieve Your Greatest Potential, by Kevin Carey

Originally in print:
https://amzn.to/441OPeH

And now available on Audible:
https://adbl.co/45YIKB2

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This week's guest is Nakia Douglas, Executive Director for the Transition Resource Action Center.

Hailing from South Dallas, Nakia tells a story that resonates with the heartbeat of a community poised on the brink of transformation. Interwoven with the unwavering strength of his mother and the life-altering embrace of education, his story promises to stir souls and awaken minds to the power of opportunity and mentorship.  

Douglas's narrative is a compelling mosaic of pivotal moments, emotional challenges, and the kindling of a leader's spirit. His journey of adaptation and leadership, underscored by a deep-rooted faith, reminds us that life's greatest lessons and opportunities often come disguised as adversities.

Join us, and be inspired by a man who is rooted in the belief that every child deserves a chance to succeed.

We'd love to hear from you! Send us a text message here!

|| Connect with Us ||

Check out all our episodes on all major streaming platforms, and further engagement with the 17Twenty crew on social media at:

https://17twenty.buzzsprout.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/company/17twenty
https://www.instagram.com/17twentypodcast

Grab your copy of the Mountain Mover Manual: How to Live Intentionally, Lead with Purpose, and Achieve Your Greatest Potential, by Kevin Carey

Originally in print:
https://amzn.to/441OPeH

And now available on Audible:
https://adbl.co/45YIKB2

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you know, sometimes our challenges and struggles are necessarily just solely meant for us. Sometimes it's meant for those around us, and so then too, they understand the challenges that they're facing may not be as bad as somebody else's, or how they can grow and learn from them. The same way, you are in the midst of it.

Speaker 2:

Every single individual has a story to tell, and they're great stories that need to be heard.

Speaker 3:

I want every listener to know they have the ability to change the world.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the 1720 podcast.

Speaker 3:

What's up, mountain movers? Welcome back to the 1720 podcast. We're with our new friend, nikia Douglas today, and he was introduced to us by our great friend and former guest, justin Parscale.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 3:

Which has a funny story to it, because how the tee-up goes, stewie, yeah, justin and I are having coffee I think it was together and I had my back to the wall and Justin's we're in the middle of conversation and then I'm like mid-sentence and then he just stands up. Why did I, with his hands up, like feel go good? And he's like Nikia, you need to be a guest on his podcast. That was like opening words, I think, before he said hello, yes.

Speaker 2:

Story checks out. Yeah, I can say it's 100% on brand.

Speaker 1:

I concur.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, so this is how you guys met.

Speaker 3:

Right, that's right. So we had a conversation, didn't know each other. It was kind of like this awkward, like hey man good to meet you. And he's like no, I'm dead serious, you need to go on his podcast. We're like, yes, sir, Okay, we'll figure that out.

Speaker 2:

And here we are today. Here we go, Justin Parscale to the rescue once again.

Speaker 1:

All the time, all the time, all the time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, how do you know? Justin.

Speaker 1:

Justin and I met wow. I was at Barack Obama Melissia Academy then and we would host a lot of different leaders throughout the city and he came down and sometimes people would stay back and talk to him and everything. And Justin, I just started talking and just hit it off and he says I'm here for you whenever you need me. And I said I'm not that one that if you tell me that or you give me your card or we exchange numbers, then I won't follow up.

Speaker 3:

Ooh, well, I know.

Speaker 1:

I said may not be tomorrow, May not be next week. Well, when I call, I expect to get an answer, and that's been. That was the beginning of our relationship, and since then, not only have we become friends, we just continue to support each other as men, continue to support each other as fathers. And just in this life you need those people that you can call on. Even if you don't see each other every day, you know that that person is there, rooting you on and also holding you accountable, and so that's our relationship.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 2:

Again story checks out. This is the type of person Justin is Right, Just keeping in touch with folks and checking in and somehow all those people that he knows, they're all somehow top of mind, it seems like to him.

Speaker 2:

Exactly he's one of those people that just is the Rolodex, is always flipping and always checking in and touching base and seeing how you're doing. And there's a few people in my life that I would say like if I got the way I would say it is, if I ended up with a flight tower on the other side of town in a rainstorm and I call somebody done, yes, sir, and kind of just among those, you'd be like I'll be there in a minute.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir, that's him.

Speaker 2:

That's him, that's him. So yeah, well, all great stories start somewhere.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

And so I don't know where your starts. I kind of got some ideas, but let's tell a story man, Take me to someplace and tell me a story.

Speaker 1:

I'm a native son of Dallas, born and raised in South Dallas, graduated from Lincoln High School. The interesting part from kindergarten through eighth grade my mom actually sacrificed and put my sister and I through private school. That built a foundation and an understanding of the value of education but also the sacrifice that parents will make because my mom was doing that by herself. My dad left when I was four years old my sister was two weeks old, laying on the bed and I remember, just like yesterday, my dad said he was leaving and to go get some cigarettes. And I remember telling my mom he ain't coming back. Wow, at four, right, right.

Speaker 1:

Oh man so when they talk about that mindset that you become the man of the house. I think that never left me. I was a young man, even until my career as well, because I always kind of felt like I had to be a protector. I was a neighborhood kid. I used to ride the bus from South Dallas to Old Cliff. I participated in the Boys and Girls Club Well, I'm sorry, it was the Boys Club then Learned how to swim at Morland's Y, did gymnastics at the old YWCA, which is the Mark Cuban Heroes Center now OK, you name it. I probably was a part of the program and so now when my kids meet some of the elders from the community, they'll be like I remember your dad.

Speaker 1:

He was this age and he was doing this and he was doing that and they were like Dad, how you know everybody. I was just in a whole lot of programs and so there's that belief that to them who much is given, much is required, and so that kind of led me toward my career path. In high school I was a part of I'm first gen, so I was in upper bound you name it from university outreach to VA Explorer program, any program that will prepare you for college. I was a part of it, and those programs kind of gave me a path in understanding that there is a life beyond South Dallas. My mom would always constantly expose us to different opportunities and she was like you may live in South Dallas, but South Dallas doesn't have to live in you, and so just that understanding that where you are right now it's not going to define the rest of your future, and I never forgot that.

Speaker 2:

So, being involved in all those things, I mean, I guess initially it's your mom's best. She was saying, no, you're going to go do this, we'll put you there, we're doing all this because we're going to. Yeah, that makes sense, right? Sometimes those stories are innate, and I'm sure it became innate, but sometimes it's someone having to push you into these spaces to get you to think outside of whatever.

Speaker 1:

We've all heard those people say I see something in you that you don't see in yourself.

Speaker 2:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 1:

That part of my journey was that when I went to Lincoln and my mom was taking me up to talk to the counselors, getting my schedule and everything done, and she was like I don't know about the rest of these kids, but he go into college and the counselor just started laughing and said well, I got somebody we need to have somebody we need to introduce him to. And the gentleman sitting in the back, mr Jackson, he was a recruiter from SMU with the Upper Brown Program and he said I got a program you may be interested in. So, lily, from our freshman year and I played sports as well, but on weekends, saturdays, I had to go to Upper Brown and it was just that conditioning. And then being on that campus at SMU, spending the summers out there, just kind of changed my mindset that OK, this is cool, I can do this one day.

Speaker 2:

Right, I can see beyond the neighborhood or the community. I can see that this life is bigger than South Dallas. Right, yeah, right. I already know a lot about your mom.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

Based on the two or three minutes we've been talking about. Tell me about mom. What's your what's? What's? Tell me about mom, my mom.

Speaker 1:

Well, I'm 48. So my mom is 78 years old and she's still working. Really she works at Lincoln. Dr Napoleon B Lewis was our principal when I was there in high school. He was there for myself and my sister. The fortunate part for me my mom was.

Speaker 2:

This guy's name is Napoleon.

Speaker 1:

Napoleon B Lewis. Ok, that's how to rap Papa Bear.

Speaker 2:

That's a great, ok great nickname and a great regular name. Oh, yes sir, yes sir.

Speaker 1:

Well, dr Lewis stood about 6'4" 6'5" but he was a father to so many of us there in the community and what he did and how he poured into us and how we watched, how he poured into those teachers to create the expectations of excellence. That was during the seasons when Lincoln was. We were quite athletically renowned in regards to our basketball team, yes, sir, but then we were also renowned for our academics. I was a part during my sophomore and senior year. We traveled to Africa twice, right.

Speaker 2:

Yes, sir, what you couldn't see was me just dead stopped sipping my coffee, because that's very interesting.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, I was also a part. That was the toss test.

Speaker 2:

I think it was toss back then. Yeah, toss or tax. Maybe it wasn't tax yet I remember that.

Speaker 1:

But we scored so high that the state didn't believe our scores. So they had us to retest. And again how Dr Lewis had those real honest conversations with us. He was literally like they don't believe little black and Hispanic kids can test as well. Let's not only show them that this was real, let's take it even further. Our scores went up.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so we tested.

Speaker 1:

That was that journey during that time, and so it was just a real awakening of us as individuals to understand the collective impact we were going to have in society.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's awesome. Tell me about going to Africa. It was transformative. You said it, but I forgot. In 16?

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir, 16 and 18. I was in the humanities cluster there at Lincoln. So Lincoln was known not only for our sports but we also had our magnet programs. We had humanities and communications and I was a part of the communications magnet and we were doing world cultures. So we're studying all the cultures across the world and our teacher, who's now one of my mentors and best friends, dr Juanita Simmons, she goes on to say if y'all could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Speaker 1:

We all kind of look around each other. I'm like, hmm, she's like if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? We were like well, our white brothers and sisters of European lineage go to Europe. Hispanic brothers and sisters, they either going to go to Spain or, if they're of Mexican descent, they're going to go to Mexico.

Speaker 1:

Well, guess where we go to Africa, and she was like y'all want to go? And we were like, hmm, yeah, ok, yeah, we'll do it. And it went from Planet C to initially, about four of us that were really interested to. When we got down to doing the fundraising and the meetings and the preparation and everything that first trip, there were 14 of us. We got to stay with families. We were there for two weeks and you're talking about just transformative going to Gori Island to the point of no return, which was the last point for slaves, and so when you went to that door you went out for one of three reasons. One, you were deceased. Secondly, you were rebelling and they were throwing you out to the sharks and or you were getting on the ships, and that's set on our hearts and our spirits at a whole different level. It's one thing to read about it, but to experience it and feel the agony that exists within the walls and in just the environment there, to being there in the schools and riding with the families, and we went to school with them and you're riding the bus and if we ride on the bus here, if you're sitting more than one person next to you, it's a problem we get on the school bus, you see three to four people sitting on the seat, people sitting on laps, people standing up holding the posts while we're riding. So we're driving past the marketplace and we see other kids out there and we were like we already packed, why don't we just get them too? And they're like oh no, everybody doesn't have the chance to go to school here. Right, you don't only the best have the opportunity and or their families can afford the opportunity. That's a paradigm shift, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And then to be sitting in classes and they're learning their fourth and fifth languages. And so we were in a French class. This was their third year in the French class, and so they're sitting there just speaking and I don't understand anything they're talking about. So I'm just sitting in the back doodling. They say oh, we got a brother here from America. Tell us about yourself. How old are you? And I mean language to do you speak? I say, well, I'm 16 years old, from Dallas, texas, united States, and I know one language and some change. And they're like language has some change. That's why I speak English and I'm learning Spanish Anything. That's why we look down upon you all. What you mean. Look down upon us they say you all have all the opportunities in the world and you just squander them away.

Speaker 1:

That hit me a little different. They were like you don't recognize. They say you represent the best of us. That were taken away and were the leftovers.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I never thought about that. There's a lot of things I never thought about I never thought about that.

Speaker 1:

Oh, when they said it and you're sitting there and I'm like, oh man, I didn't know you felt like that. But that young me had to have a rebuttal and I was like, well, you don't understand what slavery was. I said slavery did not only enchant us physically, but I said there was a mental and spiritual. So we've been disconnected and so everything that you all continuously had access to, we just gained those opportunities again and it was just a back and forth. That just became a beautiful moment in time of recognizing the other's pain and recognizing the other's story. And those stories just stuck with me.

Speaker 1:

Going back my senior year I got to go back and see my family again, kind of serve as a mentor for those other young brothers and sisters that were traveling abroad, and it just became an experience that continued for about, I think, another four years because my sister, when she came to Lincoln, she had the opportunity to travel abroad and then funded story back to Dr Lewis. After I graduated that May, dr Lewis hired my mom that August. So my mom has been at Lincoln since August of 93. And she was there while my sister was there. So my sister didn't catch no breaks, no for sure, no, for sure, no.

Speaker 2:

I'll tell you what got us onto that little like beautiful story there is. I said tell me about mom. Yes sir, and then you started talking about Lincoln and then we got off on it and taking the trip and stuff. But I'm going to pull you back. Tell me about mom.

Speaker 1:

Mom is just the truth we always talk about as kids. We have superheroes. I've always told my mom as a superhero because she made her way out of nowhere.

Speaker 1:

And so sometimes I didn't understand how she would make things happen for us. Again, going back to school, I would sometimes be in the principal's office and about about 10 years ago a lot of my classmates we got together from city temple it was a seven day at Vinn school and we're Baptist, so you know there was a conflict on Saturdays. Yes, we got events over here at the church and you got a soccer game or a football game. Which one you doing? My mom was like no, you going to the school because they're helping with your tuition. So the reason I would be in the principal's office sometimes because when she couldn't pay tuition they would pull me out of class. My classmates were like we don't remember you being that bad, but why were you always?

Speaker 1:

in the office I said my mom couldn't pay the tuition, I would sit there and I always tried to find excuses of why my sister should stay at the school. I knew the kids from the neighborhood. I could just go to the neighborhood schools. My mom said I know what they're learning and what they're not learning, and I know what I learned and what I didn't learn and my kids won't have that experience. So whatever we got to do for you to be at that school, you're going to do so and the teachers would sneak me to assignments and initially I wouldn't do it. And she says if they're giving you those assignments, you turn them in because you need to understand the power of education, what doors it will open, what doors will close when you don't have it. So when I talk about my mom being that superhero, she had that foresight and knowledge and just will power to will things into existence, to see beyond.

Speaker 3:

You know how you're reading traction right now. Yes, his mom was the visionary and he's the integrator. Yes, it's unbelievable. Yes, Right. She had a vision way beyond even what the life she was living, for your future, for the legacy of future generations, and you walked with it. Yes, sir.

Speaker 2:

And there's a, there's a. I'm going to say this this is a really obvious duh moment. But in 2024, I think a lot of people don't really consider what it was like for your mom growing up and I'll tell my story. But my mom is. She graduated from high school in 69. This is my mom and so I. I don't know all this, but she'll tell stories about like she remembers when the school that she grew up in, southeast, southeast Texas when the school was integrated. That blows my mind Right, how close it is.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

But I think about it primarily just because I think I'm because of humanity. I think about it in the context of my mom, right, right. But the context of your mom is the same, right, right. She remembers what it was like to not have same opportunities for schools and then the integration process and all of that. And I'm not smart enough to give a history lesson here, but just saying, like the perspective of your mother in those instances, to not be mad about it but to say, no, we, this is like I learned from that experience and you two will reap the benefits of me having like all of that. I'm just kind of giving you word soup here, but you get the gist of what I'm saying is just like man, it's, it's powerful for your mom to say I figured, I think I figured this out.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir, this is what we're doing, yes, sir, that's wonderful and that led into who I became as a professional educator. Yeah, because you know again just that, the internal challenges that I was having because we couldn't pay the tuition wearing those ugly uniforms.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that was a whole another. They probably were ugly.

Speaker 1:

Actually they were green, green pants with white shirts where it was actually gold. When I was younger, in elementary, they had the little gold signia on the back of the pants. I hated that, and then we would have to stop by the store in the morning, all the kids from the public school be out there like, oh, look at him, what you got on, what you know. They used to give me the blues, but again I knew them, and so I was like that's all right, that's why I'm learning. You're not right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, not really understanding until the weekend, like, but we did this, I wouldn't do that. Well, we're on this field trip. I went nowhere and I'm like what, why don't you have the same experiences that I have? And so, when I became a professional educator, as a teacher and administrator, my whole goal was providing a private school education at a public school cost for the students and communities that I served. And so, with just that intentionality, that I don't care whether or not your parents can afford to send you to private school or not. There is no reason why you shouldn't have the same level, if not a higher level, of opportunities to learn and be a productive citizen and be the greatest that you can be for yourself.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I, I, my school, may not have the same financial resources or whatever, but I can pour into you as much as I got and I can make sure we're staffed with people that are pouring into you as much as I can and all of those things that make it feel personal and real, like people who care, and all of that.

Speaker 1:

So, going back to our beginning, when you talk about Justin and others that came through the schools where I was at, I utilized that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Right, I realized I found out when they asked about me and I'm asked okay, what do you do? What's your life story? What did you do? Okay, I need you to come by and volunteer. I need you to come by and speak on this panel. I need you to come up here and support this group, and so it was a win-win. There's a win for them because they were interested in the school and being a part of it.

Speaker 1:

But, more importantly, it was a win for my, my students in the school, because now we have a new partner, but then we also have another partner in education. That's making whatever our youth's dreams viable, because now I can touch out Kevin, I can touch out and reach a student, I can reach a talk to Justin and pursue my goal with someone that actually walked the same path Right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's powerful. Yes, sir, like the multiplication kind of richer scenario. The exponential impact that that can have is is it's just really unknowable the power, but yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yes, sir, there's a we say often here small moments make a large impact Go remember 10 plus years ago, going through the big brother, big sister orientation and the thing that's always stuck out to me they said you could be matched with somebody in South Dallas. That the only thing they've ever known their entire life is that little two block by two block grid.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 3:

South Dallas their whole life and have never seen the skyline.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 3:

That was. I'm getting the chills. That was the one that was like how is that possible? Because that's it.

Speaker 1:

That's their entire life right there they don't leave.

Speaker 3:

Yes, sir, and that was a wake up call for me yes sir, big time to understand what's happening right here. You don't got to go far for it.

Speaker 1:

No sir, no sir.

Speaker 2:

Man. Yeah, I do this thing where I tell a story on top of stories, but I had that real realization when we spent. We took a trip to Africa as well.

Speaker 2:

So, a short term mission trip and you kind of get to the point where, like, I come back and I had the thought which I didn't have to fly halfway around the world to see people in need. Now, it took me, I think, going halfway around the world to come to that realization, but you can. You're a mile away from somebody, wherever you are. You're a mile or two away from somebody that needs help. You don't have to go to Africa, you don't have to go around the world. You don't have to go on a mission trip. You don't have to go build houses in Haiti.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir, you can do it right here. Yes, sir.

Speaker 2:

So there's a lot, just so much opportunity to help.

Speaker 1:

Charity starts at home and the inspiration is abroad.

Speaker 2:

Mark that.

Speaker 3:

Right, oh, we get it. This is going to be wisdom city. It really has been we could just end it right now, to already be awesome Run the war drums, war drums run it All right.

Speaker 2:

So storytelling I'm going to try to take us to chronology then, because we're in high school. It's kind of in your story arc. Yes, sir, I know there's some other spots on the journey here, so tell us a story.

Speaker 1:

High school.

Speaker 2:

I interrupted immediately like a total bomb.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, let's tell a story, never mind, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, because I didn't know where you were going to go. But I wanted to ask you. You said you played multi sports. What do you play?

Speaker 1:

Football soccer, took martial arts, tried gymnastics for a little bit. I actually played soccer from kindergarten to probably like seventh grade, and no, actually probably about sixth grade. Then at the boys club, you know, you had the old Cliff Stillis and I was back down. Those old coaches like come on out here and try this, All right. And oh, we can hit each other. Yeah, this is all right.

Speaker 2:

It's going to work out for this teenage aggression I have. That's inside of me. I don't know why.

Speaker 1:

And kind of felt and got that book. And you know, at Lincoln initially we didn't have a soccer team because, you know, soccer just wasn't popular in the neighborhood at that time I think it was my junior year we finally got a team and, unbeknownst to me, I actually got recruited to go to the University of Tulsa to play soccer and I didn't want to play sports in the house and in college I felt like, if I'm a go, I want to go on my own terms and so everything that I was looking at were academic scholarships. Well, football, you know, my head coach is actually coach samples, coach regional samples. That at Duncanville, just one of the two state championships we were his first high school football team at.

Speaker 3:

Lincoln.

Speaker 1:

And we would laugh. And on Saturday morning again, I used to have to go to upper bound and so he would have film sessions on Saturdays. At that time I was standing 5,435 pounds and he was like Douglas, why are you not coming to film? I said coach samples, look at me. Who's going to give me a football?

Speaker 2:

scholarship.

Speaker 1:

This is my path here through education and we would laugh about it. And you know, I've seen him a couple of times since and he was like you just always knew I was like yeah, I knew 5,435 pounds. That wouldn't get me no scholarship for football.

Speaker 1:

But, it was just that. No seeds he planted too. You know, we didn't know at the time. We were his first team. We just knew he was our new head coach that was coming over to the school, and it was just that again a mentality and understanding you know who you are, knowing your limitations but then also building upon your strengths. And while in high school too, I never wanted to be a teacher, but I was, in future, teachers of America, and the only reason I joined it was because they went on field trips.

Speaker 2:

And it's a solid choice though, yes sir.

Speaker 1:

Field trips are solid Field trips, opportunities. They went to Austin every spring. I was like, oh, I want to go on that trip. And Ms Gloria Dixon was the mentor between Lincoln and Pearl C Anderson, which wasa feeder middle school, and she would take us over to Pearl C the mentor, the kids, and one day we were coming back she said one day you're going to be a great teacher. I said, no, ma'am, I'm not. She said, why not? I said, cause the kids too bad and y'all don't make enough money.

Speaker 1:

She's like exactly, you're right, fast forward Whenever she would see me, especially with my students. She would like if you knew your principal. You knew your teacher. When I knew him he never wanted to do this, but I'm glad he listened to God. So you know, faith has a lot to do with my journey so far.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah, and I think we're going to get into that. I wonder, in that conversation with your football coach, if you hadn't been self-aware and determined in another direction he's like hey come watch film and you're like no, this is my path.

Speaker 3:

If you had kind of given a lost answer, he probably would have been like don't worry about your size and stature, get in this room just to make sure you were a part of something. But he could just see clearly you were destined for something. He's like oh, he'll be all right, I don't need to pull him in any tighter. He's good to go.

Speaker 1:

That was the power of again going back to not only my mom and the other parents that were around us, but the principal. He knew who we needed in our lives, and so he had to make some decisions. Because there was another historic coach that had been in our school for years and Dr Lewis knew when it was time for that transition to happen. Bring in new leadership and surround us not only with a coach but teachers that were intentional about what they were pointing to us.

Speaker 1:

I was doing trig and I remember sitting in the trig class and I'm like I want to be a social worker. Why do I even need this course? What the understanding was? They said well, we're teaching you to apply the highest level of your mind. So, whether or not you're using this in your career, you've learned to apply this level of your mentality. So, therefore, any challenges you face academically, you can overcome this. You can overcome the rest of it in the future. And so again, fast forward. When I became a principal, we added pre-AP and AP. When I was at Maceo, we opened up Obama. Every young man came in you going straight into pre-AP and AP and the parents were like hold on, he wasn't pre-AP, he wasn't intact. Well, if he's here, we're going to equip him to be successful. We're going to support you all as a family, but then collectively, we're going to support them to have success. So it's a changing of that mindset. Having gone through it, I could walk somebody else through the same process.

Speaker 1:

And just so happened that I had credentials to support the goddess of what I was willing to provide for them.

Speaker 3:

With getting on the other side of it, not just on faith and hope, but also confidence, because you know it can work. It's not just faith and hope. I've seen the outcome.

Speaker 1:

You have it yet but, trust me, faith without actions is dead, and so it's putting forth that vision and putting it in front of people and guiding them toward it, and I've always been with it. I always believed in and just been great to have some great staffs that saw and understood the vision for what the work we were doing, that we were transparent. So not only transparent in the professional learning community where we're talking about each other's data, but anybody knew, especially when we first opened up Obama and my last couple of years at Amacio, we would post our school data in the main hallways so everybody understood. This is why you feel the intentionality and the intensity in regards to the expectations of how we're going to overcome the academic barriers that our children are facing by the insistence and exposure to great instructional journeys great instructional opportunities, and so there was never any aha, got your moments.

Speaker 1:

No, this is why they do it. Yeah, right, yeah, you go over that. That's what they do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

But that's Mr Doug's and his team. This is what they expect, and so it wasn't just an expectation of the students, it was an expectation of the faculty and staff, the parents and the community as well. Right, yes, sir.

Speaker 2:

That makes sense. That makes sense. Tell me, ask a Jesus question, because I know he shows up.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 2:

And he showed up, like if we're in high school. Has he showed up yet?

Speaker 1:

He was hanging around. Yeah, no, I get it, he's always doing that.

Speaker 2:

No, he's hanging around a lot, but go on.

Speaker 1:

He hung around in ways that I didn't see and understand. Fair Fair. I have a friend well, I got a lot of stories but one of my friends the Phillips family, broderick and Cedric Phillips from my freshman year up until my junior year, after I would leave home I would go by their house and people used to think I was a nice dresser. Well, my mom did what she could and what she couldn't do. I could go down to Broxham House and their mom would always let me wear some of their clothes. So if they weren't wearing it on a Monday or Tuesday or whatever, I'd flip it in and wear it the next day Again.

Speaker 1:

I was 5'4", 135 pounds, and it wasn't until my junior year that I hit the little growth spurt that I have right now. And I remember walking to the door and mom just looked at me. She smiled and she was like we can't help you no more. And I'm like what you mean, miss Phillips? She says you realize how much you've grown? I'm like no, ma'am. And she says you don't fit the clothes anymore. And I looked and I said well, how'd you roll up the sleeves? Whatever we got to do to make this work, and I think that's when some of my friends outside of him didn't know the struggle that I had.

Speaker 1:

But, just like we were discussing earlier, you just smile, you don't need to carry your pain and your weight and your challenges and struggles into the lives, into the conversations with everybody else.

Speaker 1:

You work your way through it and you're thankful for it.

Speaker 1:

And so, going back to, like I said, god being there, god was there in just a variety of ways, the variety of relationships that I appreciate now, that I didn't understand.

Speaker 1:

Then we went off to North Carolina, to college and Livingstone, and while we were there my mom had some more hardships, so she was staying with my grandmother and so when I would come home there wasn't always space for someone else to stay in the house. So, derek, terrence, lorenzo, I ended up staying with them, derek and Terrence, here in Dallas, and when I was in North Carolina and they shut the doors down, lorenzo had moved off campus so I would go and stay with them and so my boys might became family because of the proximal understanding of each other's challenges and struggles. And so you know you talk about again God being around. Even though I may not have physically just felt them at all times, I knew spiritually he was surrounding me with people, mentors, a village that was guiding me towards something better and bigger than what I could experience or what I was used to experiencing at that time.

Speaker 2:

I mean, did you even appreciate it at the time? Or is it like, with the benefit of hindsight, you're like, okay, I get that those people were not in my life by accident.

Speaker 1:

I'll say yes and no. I'll start with the no first, because we were just always there and there just always just seemed to be a path and a curation of experiences and people that just seemed to just kind of be like, okay, this is step one, that's step two. This group is here again. You through this. This group is here again. You through that. These friends are here during this season and as a child, you really don't see it. You just like, okay, we just fit, it's working, this is what it is. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

But when you become older and you recognize there was a synergy in our spirit, and that synergy within our spirit was even deeper than that. It was God giving, it was a divine appointment. It was that moment that provides further clarity in regards to we got you through this so you can do this. We allowed you to struggle here, so you'll be strong enough to handle this over here.

Speaker 1:

So I start to understand even further the blessing of my father not being there, because I became so observant of everything and any man or just anybody in my life and I would take the good and the bad from every situation, and so I learned just to look at every situation as a learning experience. I can do this when I get older or I won't do this. When I get older, when I become this type of teacher, I may do this in my classroom or I won't do that in my classroom. When I become a campus principal, I want to have that same impact as Dr Lewis and this, but I won't do this. And so I would take bits and pieces of everything and every situation and then, when you get to adulthood, or you get into leadership or you get into being a father or just different capacities, you get to bring together and cultivate it to who you are and create the best fit.

Speaker 2:

I want to go back to that because I think my jaw is slacked open for just a second. But I think what you said is the blessing of your father not being around. Is that what I heard you say?

Speaker 1:

Oh, there's blessings in the challenges, there's blessings in the pain. There's pain and there's purpose in the pain.

Speaker 2:

That's just now. Your boys are going to make fun of it. Now I got like the chill bumps of the idea because, man, that is not a story. That is not a way people typically frame that story. That story is absence, frustration, lack of leader, jam a bunch of ideas in there. I've never in my life heard it say like the blessing of it and it's just reframing it. But my goodness, man, that's amazing. I've never heard of that before.

Speaker 1:

It helped me to define who I was individually, but then fast forward. I never knew I would open up an all male leadership academy for boys in Dallas and to recognize and remember my own pain of different seasons in the life of those guys. So I could be walking down the hallway or hear a challenge that the young men were facing or things of that nature and I'd tell them just send them to the office, I'm still doing my work and I go and let it out and they just sit back there and cry and I turn around you, ready to talk. Yes, what's going on?

Speaker 3:

Nothing. What's going?

Speaker 1:

on Nothing. You wondering why he ain't around right, how you know? I used to wonder the same thing when I was your age, you wondering what you can do better, how you know? I used to wonder the same thing when I was your age, and so it was. I would tell people that campus, whether you were a student, a parent or a faculty and staff member, if you had any fatherhood wounds, they were going to be revealed during that time and if you open yourself up to it, they could be healed during that time. And that's what it did.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

It healed a lot of fatherhood wounds for myself, for those young men and for different members of the faculty and staff and the community. And my dad left when I was four because how do you raise a child is potentially not yours, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah it's real stuff.

Speaker 1:

So all them years when I went by hating him. Once I found out what the story was the perceived story was I felt bad. So I was in North Carolina, I graduated we're about to graduate from college and went through a season where me and my mom were struggling. I was living differently. I wasn't in the right headspace, so I wasn't the best person at times in school. But it wasn't until finding my faith again that I had to come home to heal, and so when I said Dallas represented demons for me, it was coming back to face those demons and heal from them and taking care of my dad. That was really the two best years of my life. Subconsciously and psychologically, I think I was coming home to have that father-son relationship that I didn't have growing up. But, as God would do it, everything he needed he had had a stroke, everything he needed to learn from his stroke. I was teaching as a kindergarten teacher, so I went from a class of 29 to one to a class of one to one. I had my classroom labeled, came home and labeled everything, because when I first bought him home from the rehab facility, he called everything a biscuit. So I thought he wanted biscuits. So we went and bought biscuits. He never called me my name Do do, do biscuit, no biscuit. It was a neighbor up the street, ms Merritt. She says, baby, we're proud of you, number one, for coming home, take care of your dad, because we didn't know who was going to take care of him. And she says I know those doctors have given you all these prescriptions of what he can do and what he shouldn't do. She said well, you take a little wisdom from my old lady. I said yes, ma'am, please. She says just rashing him some cigarettes. I said cigarettes. The doctor said no. I said if he started smoking cigarettes he could die. I'm trying to do what the doctor say. She said baby, I know your dad, since he was 15 years old. He was smoking. Then Just give him a little piece of life. And so I started rashing it and we would sit out on the porch and neighbors would come by and sit and talk with us and his vocabulary started coming back. And there you go Memory started coming back. Before he passed. The only thing he wasn't doing was driving.

Speaker 1:

I have an older sister. When my wife and I got married and moved to Central Texas, she would take care of him, but I would come home every weekend to take care of him and everything and give her some time. And the first time we met my wife we were dating and she met us at the MetroDynamic where she used to be right across from Baylor Hospital and our waitress used to know my dad is big Doug and she called me little Doug. So she meets us there for breakfast. One morning we just started dating and she comes in. She says she's sitting there with us and she goes to the bathroom and she says who is that? She said that's my daughter. We all kind of leave each other like hmm, how are we?

Speaker 1:

And then she goes to the restroom he says Doug, doug, she's the one, she's the one, doug. He claimed her first time he met her. We just celebrated 22 years, that's awesome.

Speaker 3:

There's so many good stories in that. All the doctors in the world, right, they can't prescribe you soul, right. But she knew elderly lady. Right, he knew a little dose of something that brings a soul back. There's a lot of healing, Right. You know when you get that back you can't get that from UT Southwest or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 3:

Doesn't exist.

Speaker 2:

Yes, sir. Well, there's another part of healing in there too, and I know there's a lot of the story. But, like as you're saying it, one of the some of the words you use is, like we said, on the front porch, people came by, right, right.

Speaker 1:

Man.

Speaker 2:

It's a chain reaction. Yeah Right, it reminds me of COVID and it's just a crazy. You're shaking your head.

Speaker 1:

So you know I'm about to go with this. But yes, sir, Go ahead.

Speaker 2:

Our neighborhoods feel so like disconnected and we built eight foot privacy fences between them all. But during COVID, what'd we do?

Speaker 1:

We came out.

Speaker 2:

Right, we sat on the front porch.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

We actually remodeled our remodeled, like our front yard to build a seating space with a place we could sit and we saw the neighbors walk by and walk into dogs and met new friends and all of this right, but it's it. It harkened back to a day where sitting on the front porch was what you did and the community is the people you knew and all that stuff. And so, like that idea of doing it, love it. The idea that it's like healing and restorative, love it. And there's a lot of lessons for all of us around, like just like literally knowing your neighbors and them knowing you, and being able to pop in and tell an old story and reminisce about something and laugh and share a drink and all that stuff.

Speaker 1:

So what COVID did when you talk about community. It transitioned community back from just being a noun to a verb.

Speaker 2:

Oh man, Right, might write that down somewhere.

Speaker 1:

Right, because community is communal, coming together, proximal togetherness. You know, the more we're separated, the more likely we are to not see and understand others. And what COVID did? It shut the world down and you know only God could do that and how you orchestrated that and you have the entire world shut down. And even though we were separated holistically, we became together collectively.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

That's awesome and it didn't stick Because the whole human nature biting the apple from the tree.

Speaker 2:

I'm like, I know that we are, but also I hate you.

Speaker 1:

And I don't understand you.

Speaker 2:

And let's fight about something Well wait a minute. It wasn't just almost four years ago Now. Can you believe that? Right, we were all excited that we were all in this together. Remember that, right, we're not anymore. No, we're not. That both we're still not Okay, right?

Speaker 3:

No, I hate you again, floods over, I guess Right, the flood is over, it's perfectly said the flood's over. Let's get back to hating each other, right.

Speaker 2:

Unbelievable. Anyway, that's sort of side-storied that, but that's beautiful man, that's beautiful, okay, so this I don't know how long it lasts. You got to spend a lot of time with your dad after having not probably I don't know all of this but probably not have spent a lot of time with him.

Speaker 1:

Well, when I would come home from college, my great-grandma. So my dad would send my great-grandma up. And the funny thing about it again, even though he'd left at four, he really on the state eight blocks away.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

So it was kind of a hidden miss in regards to when we would see each other. We'd have time together and stuff. That was tough. And then the street that he lives on, southland it was known for the hill, and so you had bikes and my age.

Speaker 1:

At that time we always went down Southland. You were raised down the street and I remember one day going down the street remember homeboys and his car pulled us out and pulled out and almost we almost hit it, couple of on our bikes and the man stops the car and gets out and starts kind of cursing and he looks. And then I look and look in the car and he has his girlfriend and her kids in the car and my great-grandmother sitting on the porch and she sees me and she says they call me Smiley, smiley get on up here.

Speaker 1:

You said you okay. I said yes, ma'am. My homeboy was looking because they don't know. You know my great-grandmother. And they said you okay. I said yeah, I'm staying back and talking to her. They were like who's that my great-grandmother? And they were like who's that? I said it's my dad. And she said you okay. I said yes, ma'am. She said you sure? I said yes, ma'am, and she and I got close, real close, and she would always tell me baby, you special, baby, you special.

Speaker 1:

And so you know, all the way through middle school, high school, she always tell me I'm special and they always tell me I'm special. And I used to ask her right when I was in college, right before I found out everything. I said, uh, granted, was I ugly baby or something? She said no. I said was I adopted or something, what? And she was like one day you'll know the story. She said but no matter what, that's your dad. I just need you to promise me that when I leave here, you always come in seeing my granted pass when she was 95.

Speaker 1:

And so I graduated May of 97. Yeah, that was May of 97. She died two weeks before I graduated from college. She always say how she was going to get on that flying bird and come see me. But, um, I told I made that promise and so I would always come home and see my dad. And so when I get home and see my dad and everything and we kind of sat, you know, start trying to have a relationship and kind of came around a little bit towards the end of my high school career, but it was almost like too much time had passed.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

But it was going into my junior year in college. I have a friend, my sister now, tanya. We knew each other all the way through high school and she always knew everything about me Everything, I mean everything about me. And so I just figured she had a home girl at Lincoln that told her about you know what I did? And she says you ever wondered why I was calling you my big brother. I was like, well, I guess that was your way of making sure that you know I didn't try to date you or nothing.

Speaker 3:

Friends though, yeah.

Speaker 1:

You kept me in a friend zone. She says, uh, no, we've known about you all our lives. So what you mean? She says, uh, yeah, we've known about you since you were born. I said, huh. She said you, my big brother, you are a big brother for real. I said huh. She said you know Uncle Duck? I said, yeah, no, uncle Duck.

Speaker 1:

She says, uh, that's my daddy, and I was like, okay, what they got to do with me. He says, uh, that's our daddy, and I'm like, no, she's like, remember, he used to stop by and see you and we're on the talking. She said you sit there and talk to him for about five minutes and then you just be like, all right, I got to go. I'm like, yeah, how you know that? She's like, yeah, he used to tell us that you would do that to him and, um, there was just an understanding that, um, my mom and the family made that nobody would tell me. And so when I did find out, you know, I asked my mom about it and I was back in school and she says, well, you know, we were going to wait till the right time to tell you.

Speaker 1:

I said, well, my mom said, you know, as an adult and a parent. I understand, you know you have to make a decision. That was best for you all, I said, but the pain still is the same, whether you tell me where I was one 18, 28, 38, or 88. And like I grew up, you know, upset and hating this man, and nobody told me. I said now I understand why people used to say I was special, you know, because they understood that there was just a divine challenge, a character building moment that was placed upon my existence and that impact of the family that you all respectfully made a decision, I said. But nobody, everybody forgot about the child.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I said so. The child is hurting now, so you all have to respect me and, being that, I'm going to kind of pull back for a while. And so I got closer to my extended friends, who became family, that were witnessing me go through this, because we all grew up with our father in the house, but we all had different stories and minds was just playing out in front of everybody.

Speaker 2:

Right, right Right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you know, sometimes our challenges and struggles are necessarily just solely meant for us. Sometimes it's meant for those around us, and so then too, they understand the challenges that they're facing may not be as bad as somebody else's, or how they can grow and learn from them the same way. You are in the midst of it, right?

Speaker 3:

That's that cycle of mountains, Mountains of your life. You said it got you through this so you could use it right.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 3:

And so you have examples and kids come in your office and you're able to use that pain because you know there's in the moment. It's tough and it's that person's mountain. Whatever that peak is is their peak. You can't compare comparisons of thief to joy.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 3:

Like, whatever your peak is and my peak, we both feel it as an equal peak. It might be a different story, but it's all our peak. But not only can you get through it, but you could use it and then eventually blessing your life, Thankful for it. Right, that was awakening for me. Last year I was listening. You hear the same like elevation worship and scripture songs and one day I heard I'm thankful for the mountain. I started reflecting on. Thankful for a mountain, I'm like wait a minute, I am.

Speaker 3:

Right, like I've never been there before, right. But it takes that cycle. It takes a lot of life, maybe longer seasons than you hoped, to get to that point.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 3:

But then when you start sharing it like I'll tell you some, some comparative stories offline, right when you share vulnerable stories, all of a sudden people are like I went through that and I kept it to myself because I thought I was the only one going through it.

Speaker 1:

Why are they out of me? Yes, sir.

Speaker 3:

That's why we share.

Speaker 1:

That's it Exactly, and it comes in time and you got to know when and where, because everybody's not prepared to receive it at different times and then sometimes, depending on where you are in your own personal healing, you may not be ready to share it, because it does create that sense of vulnerability. And are you willing to answer those questions? Are you willing to confront those memories? Are you willing to grow from those mistakes? I haven't been perfect. By no means to say that I've lived a perfect life. I've made my mistakes, my share of mistakes, but I'm still growing alone and every day. That's right. School is always in session. School is always in session. I'm either a student or a teacher. Want to do it up?

Speaker 3:

Just flip the hat. Yes, sir, yes, sir, any given moment.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there's so much to that. There's so much to that. I could say different things, but it would be the same thing. Yes, sir, you never know man. You never know when somebody needs to hear your story and you don't know why it's been given to you and you may not want it, but it's yours to steward Correct and you do it. That the right thing is the time come.

Speaker 1:

And sometimes it's meant for you to listen to other people's stories. I understand other people's journeys. There's just so much great synergy that happens in being able to speak but then, more important, being able to listen. I would say we were given two years and one mile. Which one should we use the most? Right Our ears?

Speaker 2:

Well, and it goes to kind of the community thing we were talking about earlier, but it goes to the stewarding of your story in a lot of different spaces. But if you don't listen, then you, if all you want is to be heard, then you can't really ever reach understanding. Correct, I need to. I need to listen, like I need you to tell me your so I can understand you better. And maybe the answer is now that I understand you better, we have a better synergy. Or I have a story that I need to share with you, or I can help you heal, or I know a guy, but if all you want to do is be heard, we're never going to understand each other.

Speaker 1:

Yes sir, yes sir, I love the idea of just listening.

Speaker 2:

Tell me that's kind of how we start out is. Tell me a story Right Like help me understand you better.

Speaker 1:

Right, and here we go.

Speaker 2:

Anyway, love that when we go from here, though I feel like we talked ourselves into a corner.

Speaker 3:

Well, it seems like and we don't have to do these itemized by any stretch of imagination, but telling your story. It seems like at that point Father passes. It seems like you say I'm here to stay.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Like and there's some sort of maybe another divine appointment, something career related, so all yours, and even coming back to Dallas was a story in itself because I'm doing three things that I said I never do. I said I never moved back to Dallas, that I wasn't getting married, and if I stayed in education and be late for it as early 50s before I went into administration, what do you say? If you want to make God laugh, you tell him your plan versus his and I just think he just bust out laughing. He probably thought I was just like a world-class comedian, like yeah, I got you, that's real cute.

Speaker 2:

Come over here, y'all come over here and check this one out. Watch this one, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I moved back, found my faith take care of my dad. I was taking care of my dad. My money got short. North Carolina pays less than Dallas does and so when my money got short, I said I'm going to do what I do, I'll go back and start teaching. And I was at the table with the HR and they said they wouldn't accept my years from North Carolina. I'm like, oh no, I just got up to 19,000. I'm not going back to where I started off at 16.5. And they said so you're not going to accept my contract. And I literally was ready to walk away and I said, well, how much did you all offer? And before I walked away I looked at the contract. It said 31,000. I said, oh, I think I can work with this.

Speaker 1:

That began my career in DISD and then I wanted to go back to my old neighborhood of South Dallas. My goal was if I made it out, if I'm coming back to Dallas, I got to go back to my old neighborhood. If I made it out, I want to show others the same path. So I taught in Marlborough King Learning Center and while I was there, this young lady I'd recognized her a couple of times in the hallway. She was quite the looker and everything.

Speaker 1:

But I'd had a bad incident with one of my coworkers when I was in North Carolina that we dated and didn't work out well. So instead of getting my honey while I make my money, I try to get all my friends to come up and meet this young lady and they're like what's wrong with her? What's wrong with her? I said nothing, why are you on date? I was like, remember what happened in North Carolina? I would never do that again.

Speaker 1:

But one of my coworkers, one day we were leaving a conference, she said I got $2. I can at least go to the dollar movie. We went to Dave and Bussers and that was 22 years later. That's how I met my wife. Just love my life. She saw me when I didn't have anything and my purest unraw form, taking care of my dad, balancing work. The phone, the cell phone it's not the same cell phone but the same number. I got this number because of her, because I would not get a cell phone. I was, you know, conspiracy, they'd fallen and listening to me and everything. Oh there, yes, exactly.

Speaker 1:

But also I need, because Right, because she used to see me whenever he'd get sick. They called to the school and she was like no, they need to be able to get in contact you whenever your dad is not well. So she's talking to me and they're getting the cell phone and I've had that number. We've been married for 22 years, so I've had that number for 23 years, same number.

Speaker 2:

Covered it yes.

Speaker 3:

Exactly.

Speaker 2:

At this point there's no chance you ever get rid of it.

Speaker 1:

And so I joke with people. I said that number ever changed. That means I messed up. She cut it off, made me start from scratch, but she saw again. Somebody else has saw something in me that I didn't see in myself, and I used to have locks. So when I was taking care of my dad I had a little mini fro, and whenever I couldn't understand something, I was really struggling with it. I would start twisting my hair and so one day she literally says why don't you go and lock it? And I was like huh, and she was like you do it all the time anyway. And so I started locking, and so when I had my season of taking care of my locks and my hair, I was also the season when I was taking care of my dad, and so there was just that spiritual rise of passage and understanding myself.

Speaker 1:

And then we left here my mentor from high school, dr Simmons. I was finishing her doctorate at UT and she knew I was in Dallas and felt like I wasn't being as engaged as possible and she said well, you need to come down to the Austin and see what opportunities they offer. And we went down for a little trip. Kind of like the city, a little vibe and everything. I'm like. Ok, this is a college town. I'm kind of used to this. I can see this and I'm looking at opportunities. And we were dating at the time. She says ought to be cool, I may come down to visit you sometimes.

Speaker 3:

And I hear her say huh, what you mean.

Speaker 1:

You want to move down here with me?

Speaker 2:

Not if we're not married.

Speaker 1:

Oh OK, this is that marriage thing. I didn't know that I loved her the way I did until I thought I was going to lose her.

Speaker 1:

Oh man, right, yeah, she's playing chess, right, right. And I was on the board and didn't know that I was playing, that the game called love. Yeah, she was playing. And when I thought about the moment of losing her or about to make this decision, it just kind of reaffirmed what people have been telling me from my dad she the one to my mom. After she met her, she was like oh, she's nice to my homeboys back in North Carolina, like man, we don't know who this is, but she got you To me, understanding that you got a blessing right here in front of you. And she stayed with me that Christmas and we are proposed and we got married July 14, 2001. And that was just the beginning of just a series of blessings and just our journey collectively, as a family, to where we are now. It hadn't been without any pain, hadn't been without any challenges and hardships a lot of joy, a lot of memories, a lot of great opportunities, a lot of growth, a lot of just experiences of her witnessing me deal eventually with the death of my father, to preparing her when she lost her father. So that was part of our reason.

Speaker 1:

I moved back to Dallas After my father passed. I was still in Georgetown and I moved to Flugerville and then her father became ill and she wanted to come closer to home and I was like, all right, even though we had just built the house in Flugerville, we figured out, came back to Dallas, I was able to go back to my old neighborhood as an assistant principal at Charles Rice Learning Center. She got settled in DISD, built our home in DeSoto and we've been there for 20 years and God has been good, he's been good, yeah. So when you talk about just a series of just spiritual opportunities, faith is an easy word to say but a hard word to display.

Speaker 2:

Come on.

Speaker 1:

People are. I believe, I believe, I believe. Okay, you believe when the challenge is hit.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm.

Speaker 1:

You believe. When things ain't going right, you believe. When you get fired, you believe when you lose them, you believe when things aren't right, when that car breaks down, that kid is acting up. Do you still believe? That's when you see people's real character, character building moments, of those moments that cause you to challenge and rethink and question everything about the core of your existence. And when you are at those broken moments and you recognize that the strength that you're living in and abiding in isn't just yours, it's beyond you. That's when you truly learn about yourself and you learn about others.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 3:

Pinned that whole last two minutes right there. Yeah, right.

Speaker 2:

That was good Clinic on faith right there.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, In my head.

Speaker 2:

I'm thinking thank you, Justin, yeah, yeah, I was thinking about how you believe God's in control until you don't have control. Right, that's the thought that was running through my mind, like, oh, god's in control as long as I have the steering wheel. You don't have the steering wheel anymore, right? What do you think? That's not where you would have driven Exactly. What do you think now? I mean, that's where that faith gets tested. I don't know exactly how you said it, but it was awesome about, like it's easy to say it again, what did you say?

Speaker 1:

It's easier Faith is an easy word to say than display.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's it. One and man. The gaps between my light bulb moments, thankfully, are getting shorter, mm-hmm, I mean, you know of one this past Sunday where I was wrestling with something a few days by myself.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm.

Speaker 3:

And then I showed up at church someday and I'm like here, dude, like here you play books yeah, I don't know what you know. And then like the immediate piece I had, you know piece, despite the chaos, because of faith, I don't have an answer, right, but I have faith, right. And. But look, sometimes I need this much time to do it, you know arms are spread as far as possible, trying to get those waves shorter.

Speaker 3:

Yes, sir, you know, and maybe eventually it'll be pre-wave, proactively, like going into this knowing I got faith and then there is no wave. But not there. The waves are very short. But it's a beautiful thing in that self-discovery when you can show all right, you first, man Right. I'm trying to wrestle this all by myself and that's silly.

Speaker 2:

Right, well, and the wave link's getting shorter too as a part of this is just steward on faith, like but like. This means nothing. Everybody's stop-listing immediately.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

So, like you know, if you're not having that communion or that relationship or like the regular interaction, and then all of a sudden you're like, hey, I need to get an answer on this one real quick. No, like I don't know. You Like let's you know what I mean. And so the more you're talking, the more you're communing, the more you're praying, the more you're in the space, the wave link starts getting shorter. Yes, sir, and anyway, I see that to Kevin's point.

Speaker 1:

I see that in your journey and he's just like no no, no, we're.

Speaker 2:

More often we're saying you, I don't know why I said we. There's no plural there saying okay, boom, that hit me, help me figure this out. Help me figure this out, as opposed to me, who's still a stupid idiot is just like oh, no, no, no, I'm in control. I got in control. Yeah, hold on a second, watch me do this.

Speaker 3:

That wouldn't have happened if I didn't physically walk into church. Right, you know, like I think we were talking about this yesterday on the car ride Right, I think people are still operating. I'm kind of generalizing People are still operating church and COVID rules of just watching on TV when man you need to go, go be a part of a community. It's a huge difference, because me physically walking in was all that was needed in order to lay something at the feet of him, correct, correct, I'm not getting that if I click join teams chat, but it varies from person to person.

Speaker 1:

Agreed, because some people need that proximal. Some people need a message that may pop up on their social media. Some people may need an interaction with individuals that they work with, but for some people we may be the only Christ God that they see or they ever experience. Some people may need it going on a nature walk, hearing it. How we hear him and how we experience him is different from person to person. My kids and I learned to experience him doing COVID more doing our nature walks and walking our dogs and just seeing him in.

Speaker 1:

What's happening with that tree? Is he rolling? What does that have to do with life? That's a part of aging. Okay, do we just throw this tree away when it starts to roll? No, we don't care of it. What happens with our elders when they get older? Do we just throw them away? No, we take care of grandma. We do. We would have conversations like that. We had a garden. We didn't grow up with doing no gardens. Growing up we had watermelons, collard greens, spinach, butter, crunch, lettuce, asparagus, cilantro, the little grape tomatoes. It blew my mind that we were able to do that in my backyard, but we were able to find and hear God in the simplest of ways. That have been kind of lost since we've come out of COVID. We just don't have the time, I'm sorry, we just don't have the time to do it the way we used to. So, yes, there is that need of proximity, but for some people, depending on the stage of life they are, I won't say that churches are the only way they can find it or receive it.

Speaker 1:

It could come at different times and different spaces depending on how that person is able to listen. You know, hear his presence.

Speaker 3:

I agree.

Speaker 2:

All right, so I'll do the. How do we transition from that great thought to the next great thought? Pick me up, y'all are married. I mean, I know you have a professional journey here that I think we want to lean into too, and where? You are and what you're doing now and all this stuff. So take me married.

Speaker 1:

Get married, take me down this little track. Mooda, central, texas, was an assistant principal in Georgetown in Flugerville In Georgetown I learned systems. That was during 9-11. And the principal I was working with again just man, you, just yeah, you keep taking me there. So we were talking about Houston Baptist.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, I went through Region 13, region 13 Education Service Center and we had a partnership with Houston Baptist and it was an alternative certification program for administrators. And so we were, just when we were about to get married, literally going through sessions in the sessions. I'd accepted a teaching job there but to be a part of the program no one could be a teacher. So all my other cohort members had jobs and so literally I'm sitting here two days before I get married, relinquish my teaching job and was nervous because I'm about to go say I do to this woman this weekend and I don't have a job. And literally we're going back and forth in a session in Becky Washington she was our facilitator and we're going back and forth talking about classroom management and design and she says where?

Speaker 1:

you work at and I said I'm looking for a job. And she looked at me and she said come see me at the break. I said, yes, man, go see at the break. She says I just retired from my school. I said, okay, that's good. She said, but they moved my assistant principal up to the principal's ship and she needs an assistant principal. And I'm like, oh, okay, that's good, I'm 26 years old. It locks down below my shoulder and she says I want you to interview for that job. And I was like, okay, now, mind you. Night before I told my wife, I said I just want one interview, all I need is one. I only got one interview and that began my administrative career there you go.

Speaker 1:

Becky Washington. Again, just another divine appointment connecting me with her former assistant principal, who was the principal. Beth Fawce and I began my administrative career in Georgetown. While there, that first year, Ms Fawce ended up having a medical procedure and then she had to go and take care of her aunt. That passed away and the superintendent came down and I'm thinking he's going to bring another principal in because she's out. He said no, I've talked with the staff or talked with the students, talked with members of the community, You're going to be in charge. And I'm like what, you sure you got me? And he was like, yes, and so that was kind of my first experience outside of being an assistant principal. Just kind of like, here you go, you got it. And I was like, oh, and so you have all that self-doubt that comes up. But then I just did what I knew to do and prayed about it every day. You know, Lord, please don't let me make no mistakes. I've got to take care of these kids, take care of this community. And it worked out well.

Speaker 1:

I was there for a year, went to Flugerville, was there for a year. That's when my father-in-law became here. My wife wanted to move back to Dallas, Move back to Dallas with assistant principal at Charles Rice was there for a year. That was a whole journey in itself because again they thought I was coming to South Dallas from Austin, because they thought I was from TA and most of the staff didn't know I was from South Dallas. And so I went into the first day of school when the kids and parents are coming in, and so I'm saying Nicky, Nicky, I'm sorry, Mr Douglas, is that you and teachers?

Speaker 3:

are like how do you know?

Speaker 1:

him and they're like he grew up up the street and then just this warm welcome happening. They were like, well, why you never tell anybody that you were from the neighborhood? I said, well, I shouldn't have to. I said because my work should speak for me and so if I have to live off relationships versus the power of my work, I'm not doing my job. And was there for a year and then got my first apprenticeship, which was from Anna Jackson Vanguard School. I was 29 years old. I was the youngest person on the staff and that was one of those.

Speaker 1:

Again, what's, at those moments, first day, getting ready to speak to the staff, one of the senior teachers comes by and pulled me to the side. Ms Mitchell. She says I got a question. I said yes, ma'am. She said how are we going to do this? Ms Mitchell stands about six, two, six, three. I said ma'am. She said how are we going to do this? I said do what. She said you know you're the same age as my kids, right? I said yes, ma'am. She said how are we going to do this? And I look at it and I said, well, it's not a problem for me, but if it's a problem for you, we can go discuss in my office and she looks at me and she started laughing.

Speaker 1:

And she says we just want to know that you had enough confidence in yourself to lead us and we're fine. Came, one of my biggest advocates. When Amanda Jackson was, I was there for two years and we Hurricane Katrina hit. We had the influx of young people, families that moved into Dallas. We became a middle school. Ms Mitchell stayed there with me as a middle school teacher. We had a good relationship. My wedding anniversary was also her birthday. We stayed in touch even after I left Maynard Jackson. I was in Maynard Jackson as we became a middle school for one year and then they asked me to go to the high school, so I literally looped with my students as their elementary middle and high school principal.

Speaker 1:

I can't escape this guy.

Speaker 3:

They knew I knew them and they knew me Fresh start. Oh wait, never mind.

Speaker 1:

Great journey. So I followed an exemplary principal going into the school, then opened up the new middle school, then going to the high school, which is an established principal that had been there for years and had to do some turnaround work. So three different mindsets. So I always tell people leadership is situational. Based off the decisions and the challenges that you're facing at that time, your leadership will change, and if you don't change, you won't survive. There's a difference between what Walmart was able to do versus what the five and dime store was able to do. Walmart adapted and they're still adapting, just to keep up with the Amazons and to deal with everything else that's coming out. And so, as individuals and collectively, as people, we have to continue to adapt. We have to continue to grow and learn. So that's why we were talking earlier. Some moments I'm a student and some moments I'm a teacher and just knowing when to put what had on when.

Speaker 2:

I think you see a lot of that adaptive situational leadership playing itself out. I feel like I can always make a sports analogy In college sports.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 2:

It's just like you know what, pick a coach, pick Saban. Right, he's now retired, but the changes and the situational leadership that he had to change it kind of fluxing out of and the way the kids came in, out of the program.

Speaker 2:

And if he'd just been like nope, this is how we've done it. He would have failed miserably, but a testament to his ability to adapt to the situations and the kids and the expectations and all of it continue to keep them at the top. And this is what you're saying Really. Go run the old playbook and see what happens.

Speaker 1:

Right, You're going to run over. You're going to have to adapt. Yes, he had to adapt when he left LSU and went to the Miami Dolphins Correct, and it was in the midst of the challenges that he faced when he was at the Dolphins that he became his best self. So he learned from the pain, that's right. His pain became his purpose and so, therefore, it led to a greater legacy. Because people forget about he had success before Alabama, right, you know, people just know that that's when the lights were on him and he had the story career there. But it was built upon, there was a foundation that was laid and he just adapted it to this situation and became renowned as one of the best coaches to ever be in college football Right.

Speaker 3:

And they talk about like he wasn't just in on this latest wave of adaptation, like the transfer portal in NIL, and he's just like you know what this is about to pass me up, I'll see you.

Speaker 1:

But there's also wisdom in that, because how many? Times have we seen elders and people in power hold on beyond their time?

Speaker 3:

I don't know if you're going to go there.

Speaker 1:

You haven't prepared a succession plan for someone else, or you're not okay with the next iteration of what is to be this whole journey and itself and the whole conversation in itself right there, big time.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm part of it also and I'm not. I don't know Coach Saban. I don't know if this is sure or not, but he's older. I mean, isn't he 76?

Speaker 1:

Right, he's younger than my mom.

Speaker 2:

Touche Uh-huh. But you have if that, if the NIL was coming at them hard and it was changing everything and he was 50, he might have thought you know, I have the energy for that, I can, I can, but at this age and you're just like you know what it's time it is. What it is and it's time for me to move along is wise to your point. Like, sometimes people hang on a little too long and that's its whole own organizational problem. But you know, just having the energy for it too is a whole part and parcel analysis to succession playing as well.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes it's holding on too long and then sometimes it's people's willingness to let go Uh-huh, uh. You know, when we think about funerals, you know nobody wants you know, mom or dad or that honor grandmother, uncle, to ever leave, and sometimes it's like we know they're in pain, but we just want to hold on a little bit longer. Sure, uh, come home and take care of my dad. You know, I wish I could have had longer than two years, but I'm so appreciative of those two years that I was okay when it was time for the let go. I was okay when he told me duh, it's all right, you going down under Austin, you get your career.

Speaker 1:

When it's almost like. When he told me that and I was still commuting back and forth, it was like I'm good, you did your part, and so I didn't have no regrets. And so in life, with any relationship, we should live it as though we don't have no regrets. You know, live those moments and have those conversations, uh, have those that. That that time create those memories where you never have any regrets. And sometimes I think, in letting go is we still have some regrets or some things that we could or should have said, or some time that we could or should have spent that. You know it becomes more personal for ourselves versus I'm glad Nikhil not in pain, no more versus God dog.

Speaker 1:

I should have cussed him out one more time before he left. I don't know if you're going to cuss me out. You should have got it on that when we first got it we were healed and moved on Right and so that. And I went through that period where you know he was cussing me and I was cussing him and I'm like I will put you in a nursing home and I will go back to North Carolina. You know I didn't sign up for this, but that helped cultivate me to.

Speaker 1:

You know who I am today and hopefully one day my son and daughter will take care of me when I get older. But if not, maybe I've impacted enough lives or somebody to look out for Somebody else stopped by.

Speaker 2:

Yes sir, drink sweet, drink sweet tea on the porch. Yes sir, yes sir.

Speaker 3:

Man, yeah, it's going to be a line, it's going to be a belly counter line. Next ticket.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. When tell them about them kiddos, they show up seven years ago.

Speaker 1:

So they represent healing. So you know, you talk about life and lessons and figuring out things and talking about faith. Move back man of Jackson. Man of Jackson, middle of Maceo, my second year in Maceo. My wife and I had been trying to have kids for a while. It started down in Austin, we had some complications and we're having to go through in vitro, through the process, and that was 2007, 2008. Yeah, 2008, 2009,. We lost our first set of twins. One stillborn son lived for an hour and a half first time, 2009, 2010,. Lost second set of twins. Daughter was still no, son was stillborn that time and then daughter lived for two hours. And that last time we went to the hospital, my wife went into an elected shop and the doctors didn't know what was going on. And you know, sometimes we have to have those real conversations with God. And then God had one of those real conversations, like look here man you just got me back.

Speaker 1:

You know you done took my kids. You take her too. I'm out, you can have this time because you know I've been trying to be a good, you know, faithful servant. But you can't take my rock from it now. Hard enough, you don't took these babies. And it's like God was like okay, I got you, so I get back to school and you know my staff, you know we're growing together and literally they were like how do you keep coming back? I said what do you mean? They said how do you keep coming back, mr Douglas? I said I can't control what God is doing in my life with my wife and our kids. I said but I know he put me on this earth to be an educator so I find my healing and coming back to work at the school with you all, yeah, and like God was like okay.

Speaker 1:

I got another test for you. That was my third year at Maceo and we were coming out of low performance and we basically had to have incredible scores. That year We'd had incremental gains by five to seven points. But you know, I'm back at the school. I'd been put on a growth plan for you know, the campus and everything. And my boss asked he said you don't seem upset. I was like what could be worse being put on a growth plan or burying your kids and I was like. I said you're going to see, we're going to come out of this. And he was like why are you not upset? And I said well, our school principal ship is just like an NFL coach Either you go into the championship or you just stagnant. I'm like we going to the championship this year. And he started laughing oh no, you're going to see.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm. Long story short, we had 20 point gains across the board that spring. My last two years at Maceo, we had single gender classes at an all pre-AP and AP level courses. I was doing professional development with our staff. So there was nothing that we were doing at Maceo Smith that Barack Obama Maleesh Academy wasn't known for. We were just doing it in a comprehensive high school with boys and girls.

Speaker 1:

That spring, after all of that success, we were preparing to close down Maceo and we're opening up Wilma Hutchins High School. And then Maceo Smith was going to become a new tech, the new tech school. I was told in front of my staff that I wasn't not going to be the principal of Wilma Hutchins and I wasn't going to go and stay at New Tech, in front of my entire staff. And it's like I stood there for a minute and most of my staff, specifically, like the security officers, they had been with me for six years cause they were housed at the high school. But we had a working relationship and I remember watching their temperament and it literally went from oh man, how you say that to oh Lord, how you feel about Spongebob, and in that moment there was some staff members that were, you know hurt. It was a couple of staff members that you know we didn't have to see out of eye on everything, and they were kind of like yeah, Outwardly you could see that expression like yeah, good got him

Speaker 1:

man and I had to walk away. So I walked to my office and my supervisor he was leaving and before he'd gone in, I said anything, you need to tell me anything? No, no, just say sure, nothing. And so from that was April 15, 2010. And it wasn't till June 27, 2010 at 8 am that nobody would meet, that anybody would meet with me. Now my supervisor, his supervisor, the assistant supervisor, superintendent, and I was on the superintendent's leadership committee for principals, and it wasn't until I was part of the administrative union. They wouldn't file a grievance on my behalf. I wrote the grievance up myself and said y'all can just put your stamp it, the stamp it, and they said no. So I sent it in and the superintendent's admin she contacted him. She says he was gonna meet with you, but he's not Cause a legal attorney said. The attorney said he shouldn't meet with you now. You filed this grievance. I said well, you've seen all the emails that I've sent him. So if this is what I had to do just to get a response, I'm fine. At least y'all know.

Speaker 1:

When we talked with an attorney, 30 minute consultation turned into two and a half hours and right before I was getting ready to leave, he says. What I'm about to tell you goes against my moral firewall as an attorney. I said what's that he says? If you get the money you capable of getting, you'll never work with kids again. And I can't have it on my conscience that I blocked you from kids and so I'm leaving there upset. And so I never stopped going to work. I kept going to work. I don't think I missed was the prom, did graduation, everything, and I had a running joke with my staff to the day they asked for these keys under principal of the school race. And so, june 27th 2010, I get there and finally meet with my supervisor and he tells me I was told to tell you, look at the website and whatever you want you can have. Oh well, I'm benunct to him. I ain't always been in Dallas, so I was being recruited to go to either Chicago or Baltimore and I was a finalist for a position in Chicago and German 2-9-11 is important. It was given to me first when we lost our first set of twins.

Speaker 1:

But fast forward, june 27th 2010, 12 o'clock. I get back to the office. After meeting with my supervisor, I tell him I'm not looking at the website. If y'all got something for me. You need to present it, because if this is how you treat former students, teachers and administrators on doing it, they're wrong. I can imagine how y'all treat people that I should do something wrong. And I get back to my office and I start packing up and at that time that was the last day of the summer I mean well, the academic, well the year. It was just myself office manager and the custodians. So I start packing up and she said Mr Ducks, I asked you a question. I said yes, ma'am. She said so. They asked for the keys and we just bust our laughs. She said I ain't never been nobody like you. I said you understand where I came from. You understand why the fight is in me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I'm like you're not just taking anything from me and if I ain't did nothing wrong I'm gonna stand on it, because that's what I was taught have two things in this world my name and my word. And so my name wasn't messed up and my word wasn't messed up. So they were prepared they wouldn't deal with Mr Duggison anymore. They would deal them now with Nikia. And I sat down and I did something I hadn't done the whole time. After she left, she said I won't take your lunch. I said no, ma'am. I said because somebody said the wrong thing to me. They gonna meet Nikia and I'm Mr Duggison. I said just let me pack up. I said because this is painful. I said you gotta think I've been with these kids for six years and so now you wiping this away from me. I don't know what this is.

Speaker 1:

And after she left, I sat down and prayed and Ms Sherlock, some new, some great mentor that I hadn't said her name enough. She gave me my first sponsorship at Manor Jackson and so she called me and they called me. They still use to call me baby brother. She said baby brother, you know where you're going. I said no, ma'am. She said you sure? I said no, ma'am.

Speaker 3:

She said you need to come see me.

Speaker 1:

She said you sure y'all know where you're going. I said Ms Newsom. I said honestly. I said I'll probably either be going to Chicago or Baltimore. I said I'm a honest for position in Chicago and Baltimore's reaching out to me. She said no, no, that's not the plan. I was like I don't know what plan you talking about. I can tell you about this plan. I get over there. She said you sure y'all know where you're going. I said no, ma'am, and I'd heard them talk about all male school couple years prior to and I'm like, okay, that's cool, I'm not on that track. I'm in high school Next thing after this superintendency, and you know I'm doing the plan Right, your plan, my plan and everybody else's plan for me, for someone that didn't really want to be an educator anyway, yeah, never in fact, exactly and literally.

Speaker 1:

I get there and she said you sure, nobody talking. I said no, ma'am. She said you need to read this. And she turns around and she says this has been the plan for you all along. She slides me a piece of paper and says Nakeel Douglas is the principal of the All Maleleash Academy, which later became known as Barak Obama Maleleash Academy. And I'm sitting there and I'm looking at it and I'm like why, didn't nobody tell me Right?

Speaker 1:

She was like well, we just thought you would apply and that you knew this was the plan we had for you. And I was like no that was not my plan.

Speaker 1:

I said my plan was, you know, I was working on my doctorate. I was going to work on my doctorate, ut. So in the midst of all that, I was also working on my doctorate. But life and life hits. You have decisions you have to make. Sure, you can be selfish or you can be present. I chose to be present. I wouldn't let my wife go through no more healing and so I said all the same. For six years, seven years, I did all transition to open up Barak Obama, still going through my seasonal healing and growth. But every baby shower anything with kids I did. My wife didn't go to anything. We sit at the house TV beyond. So I'm about to give birth. I didn't see what's on ESPN yeah.

Speaker 1:

I didn't see what's on ESPN, august of 2015,. We were sitting at the house I don't know what we were watching, like clicking. Why do you always do that? Why do I always do what? Why do you always put it on ESPN? We've been married long enough.

Speaker 1:

I know the first episode comes on at six o'clock. They run it all day long. They don't put a new one on until six o'clock in the evening and they do run a little tick or tape at the bottom to give you some updates. Why do you keep doing that? I say, well, that's my only way of protecting you. She's like what?

Speaker 1:

From what I say, from seeing kids being born and things of that nature, and we shed tears together, and prior to that, when she was in the hospital, we were going through it. I would only cry in the hallway, in the car or at home. Never did it in front of her, because one time, when she first went to the hospital, I got there after work. I walked into the hospital room. My wife was crying, my mom was crying, my mother-in-law was crying and my father-in-law was crying. Well, I'd never seen her cry.

Speaker 1:

And again, the man of the house I'm a protector. I wanted to find out what happened, who did it and they were not to come into that office, I mean to her hospital room. Again, it was the doctor Just had bad side manners and it was just very matter of fact. You're gonna lose the kids, this is gonna happen. And we were operating in faith, like no, you ain't killing our faith.

Speaker 1:

And you got my wife crying, my mama, my mother-in-law Am I following her? Oh no, don't you come back in here. Lead nurse. If she needs to talk to anybody, she talks to me. She forecasted the truth, but it was a hard pill to take. Yeah, so I've just went in protective mode for those seven years. And when we, after we cried, my wife was like I thought I was going through this by myself. So what do you mean? Ooh, she said, I thought I was dealing with this pain myself. You know, I didn't know you felt this way. I said oh, baby, I cried when I wasn't around you. I said but I just felt like I always had to be strong for you. And in that moment of vulnerability she says I'm ready.

Speaker 2:

I said you ready for what?

Speaker 1:

She says adoption, foster, and we tried it down in Austin but didn't complete it and she says I'm ready. Well, when she said that I'm like, well, I may know somebody. She said you always know somebody. I said well, I kind of met somebody, had met a pastor in Fort Worth speaking at an event with the young men and he had a ministry. His church had a ministry of foster to adoption and I met pastor. I knew him as pastor and we get down there. I call him.

Speaker 1:

He says Pastor Blake. He says I can I help you? I said Pastor Blake is in the kid Douglas. We met down in Fort Worth. He said I remember with the boys course. I said yes, sir. I said my wife and I are interested in considering your adoption ministry. Now can we meet? He said we are meeting out in Arlington with our friends. So we get out there as Arrow Agency and our Arrow is an agency that helps with foster to adoption processes. So we get there and he just tells me to meet him there. So we get there and they say how can we help? I said well, we're here to meet Pastor Blake. I said Pastor Blake said no, no, no, pastor Blake. I said well, he gave us a call and told us to meet you out here and they were like, okay, and when he walks in, they were like you talking about him. I said, yeah, that's Pastor Blake. They said no, that's not Pastor Blake, that's Bishop Blake. I said okay, I didn't know him as Pastor Blake. He tells me where.

Speaker 1:

We'll level up. Yeah, dean said we've never seen this happen before. We started classes that September. Laird and Zemaya moved in, came to our Fairfax family that December. We finalized our adoption that May, and so Zair and Zemaya represent seven the number of completion the completion of our grieving Wow.

Speaker 2:

Uh-huh, and so when was that Like the time?

Speaker 1:

of the month that was 2016.

Speaker 2:

Gotcha Uh-huh.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome, man. Yes sir, yes sir. So yeah, my life was a series of blessings and faith and everything in between.

Speaker 2:

What was it they said? They called you when you were a kid Smiley, smiley. Yes sir, look at the guy you're smiling right now, like just I can see it, like kind of washing it, like see it. Yeah smiley right now.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 3:

There's like maybe 165 of these or whatever. There's only been two times where.

Speaker 1:

I.

Speaker 3:

I mean I know the name of the episode because it just keeps showing up Define appointments.

Speaker 1:

Yes sir, it's all over the place. Yes sir, Holy cow.

Speaker 3:

Yes, sir, yes sir. It's been like 20 stories where it's all rooted in a defined appointment, right, and I guess a lot of life is that.

Speaker 1:

Right. Yours are like uppercut apparent right there you know and how many people really have. Them are just on the acknowledgement Exactly.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, this is jumping out, but they're all over the place. They're probably right in front of my face and I can't see them and I'm talking about them.

Speaker 1:

And going back to what you said at the beginning, just, you know, some seed that was dropped, that seed is an impetus to this oak tree that was built and all the that it bears from there 100%.

Speaker 2:

I like the silence. Sometimes I just like to take it in a little bit better, you know, oh, I can't wait to listen back to this one.

Speaker 3:

I usually take like a ton of notes and I started in the beginning taking a lot of notes and I just stopped. Yes, it's just conversation time.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I appreciate this. Yeah, this is God has been good. And so just even going back, you know, to the story man of Jackson, man of Jackson middle, barack Obama no, I'm sorry, man of Jackson, man of Jackson middle, I'm a Maciel Smith Barack Obama. As I left, barack Obama became executive director of the feeder pattern, so I actually got to oversee all the schools in the community, and then I transitioned to UNT Dallas as executive director of the Trio and Precollegiate programs.

Speaker 1:

The special part about that was I'm a product of Trio programs, I was first gen, and so for 19 years they got to see me grow as a professional, and it was all in the same zip code 7521675241. And so when I got ready to leave to go from the school district to the university, my principals gave me a shirt and says he's not leaving, he's only going to college Because they used to call me baby brother. And so they literally saw me go from elementary to middle to a high school principal to middle school I mean, man is a magnet principal to the ED, to the university.

Speaker 1:

And so my work now with the transition resource action centers called track I've been there three and a half months yeah, three and a half months.

Speaker 1:

We support young people ages 14 to 24 that are aging out of the foster care system, dealing with homelessness and or have had contact with the juvenile justice centers. We do so for 19 counties. We have two drop in centers, one in Dallas, one in Fort Worth, where young people and or the partner agencies that are supporting them can come and get resources and with a connector in regards to helping them find housing, supporting them in their workforce development and ultimately getting jobs and or continuing their education. And for those that are 14 or 17 and a half, that are still in care, we provide what we call life skills courses to prepare them for that transition. So, cumulatively, my years as a kindergarten, elementary, high school, magnet school principal prepare me for this moment, because these are the kids that failed through the cracks Right. These are the kids that the system failed, and so now we have an expedited, intentional purpose for a brief moment of time and helping them find themselves and ultimately become their best selves for the future.

Speaker 2:

There's a population right there that had never even really contemplated existed the one that you're serving. Yes, sir, Because I think I probably have some preconceived notions about what the foster system does for kids.

Speaker 1:

Yes, sir.

Speaker 2:

And have never really contemplated that maybe it doesn't actually do all the things for those kids that I thought it was doing. They need something more.

Speaker 1:

I mean think about the foster care system. You know you look at it from two ways. There's a beginning and there's an end. Some of the ending or part of the journey is ultimately the ultimate goal is adoption. So therefore you still have that caring family or someone to assume responsibility. But if you've been passed on from state agency, from housing, living arrangements, to family, something's going to be missed Right, and so we help try to connect the dots for those missing parts, and so some of the greatest outcomes have come through just our case managers and the coaching are able to do with some of those young people that build in faith and belief in themselves that you are worthy.

Speaker 1:

That's right you are seen, you are heard, because rejection is all you know. Exactly, that's all you know, yeah, and so you've learned how to manipulate the system because the system has manipulated you. And so, therefore, when some people say, well, they're so hard to work with, I was like, well, think about it.

Speaker 1:

Would you not be the same way if you've been systematically placed within a cycle that really doesn't have a light at the end? And so then when you get to 17 and a half and literally I've witnessed this then it blew me away. The first time I saw it happen, one Friday, I was there that was like my third week on the job and the young ladies coming in and people coming in and bringing bags and she has balloons.

Speaker 1:

So I'm like we having a birthday party or something and they're like oh, you haven't seen this, mr Douglas. I said seeing what she's aging out and she already has her case manager here. Her CPS case manager was dropping off and everything and we were getting her set up in transitional housing. But literally the night before they did a little birthday party for her and she had all her belongings with her, and so Lily was from that moment to our case manager to before she could move to a transitional housing. She had an arrangement with her family where they were going to let her stay over the weekend and then she moved into a transitional housing that Monday.

Speaker 3:

How big is this? How big in Dallas is this Like? How big is this problem?

Speaker 1:

Yes, so we serve currently over 1,300 youth between 19 counties, but we're just one agency. And so when you think about collectively across you know, north Texas, they're probably anywhere between 15, 20,000 youth that we're talking about, and that's not even talking about the entire state. Yeah, it's a campus right, it's a university right. And then you think about across the nation, and so these are young people that are missed. And then you know there's the conversation of opportunity youth that they would fall into this realm as well, because you know there's the missed opportunities that we didn't provide them.

Speaker 1:

You know, collectively as a society, and this is that pivot point, this is that point where we recognize, since the pandemic, we've lost a lot of our elders and seniors that have gone into retirement just to try to enjoy some portions of their lives. So now we have that workforce gap, oh yeah. And so when you talk about that workforce gap, that's putting stress and pressures on the K-12 continuum and also the higher ed continuum. You know how are we gonna accelerate this process? And so now you have not only a focus on career and degree attainment but also certificate attainment, because we need these jobs, feel like yesterday. And so those young people that we serve. There are part of feeling that gap as well you know.

Speaker 1:

So it's not only that we're trying to stabilize them, get them in the housing and get them into the workforce. Now we want you to go ahead and continue your career, get these certificates and eventually get a degree. So you are going from a job to a career, to your passion. Yeah, and when you're there, you get a whole new space, and then we talk about changing generational curses.

Speaker 3:

That's how you break one. That's right. You gotta start right. One step might not be the ideal opportunity, correct, but it's something Correct. Something Correct so you could dig some character into and just figure out what the next step is Right.

Speaker 1:

Might not be ideal up front. You gotta start somewhere.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

What's the ask for listeners Like? Is there I mean, I don't even know what the right question place to plug in somebody to call websites to visit? How do we, if I'm out there and I just heard this story and the passion that you have about all of this and the Kale, and I think, how do I find out more? How do? We get into this Number one, just get involved.

Speaker 1:

I love for everyone to get involved with us. We're trackonlineorg, w-w-t-r-a-c, onlineorg. We are a 20 year old organization that is in the midst of its independence campaign from CD Square, and so we're the last organization that'll be spending out from CD Square. It's been a great partnership, but now we're standing on our own two feet with our own 501C3. I'm about to take our work to the next level.

Speaker 1:

I tell any parent or family member, first and foremost, to be involved in the lives of your own family. Make sure that you're your child's first teacher. They don't value education If you don't value education. Take care of ourselves. A lot of us in this industry and other industries tend to overexert and spend so much of our time taking care of others. Sometimes we lose ourselves. As we were talking earlier, I'm in a process with my wife and I. We're just focusing on our health so we can be here for the long haul for those two little ones that we have a lot more years to raise, and be intentional.

Speaker 1:

Be intentional about causes that you believe in. Be intentional about the memories you're creating with you and your family. Be intentional about who you are as an individual, because collectively, you know, was so much better. But it has to start internally before it can become external. With the students, I always tell them the first person you have to believe in is yourself. First person you love is yourself. First person you're leading is yourself. You can't believe, lead or love anyone else to you. First do it for yourself. And so I just present that to your listeners as well. You know it starts internally. For what to be external? And yeah, just be open. But yeah, if you want to get involved, wwwtrackonlineorg, we need assistance, you know, just to bear the necessities that people take for granted. One of those first eye awakening moments for me on the tour was going into the storage closet and you see, you know the toiletries, and you see socks and you see underwear. And then I looked up on the wall and I see something that says tense.

Speaker 3:

And I'm like tense.

Speaker 1:

Then I look on the other wall and see sleeping bags and they were like you gotta remember, mr Douglas. You know all of our youth don't like going to shelters, and so some of them are okay with sleeping out at night. That's a real moment, yeah, that's a real moment, yeah. So, however they would, people would like to provide support, and we prefer gently used, but preferably new, items, because a lot of these young people are used to getting used things, and so we like them to have new items. When I say toiletries, I mean everything down to fingernail clippers, to chapstick, to deodorant. However you want to get involved, please reach out to us and we'd be willing to connect you to our organizations or others that are doing some phenomenal work throughout the community.

Speaker 3:

And end man. I said end, but yes.

Speaker 2:

Well.

Speaker 3:

I think end also. And then you looped one big thing into it.

Speaker 2:

How do you do anything after that, and that's excellent. Yeah, the construction community is primarily where our listeners hang out, which is full circle, the Parscale, and my hope is that folks are like this is amazing, and how do we get involved?

Speaker 1:

So also with the construction community. Don't think you all are excluded now.

Speaker 3:

Oh no, so they like, we like getting involved.

Speaker 1:

So we have opportunities now that we're considering creating and building our own transitional housing. So we have a project that we're looking at in Fort Worth and we're considering some opportunities here in Dallas as well. So, for those that are, that is your gift, oh, we have a way for we can have a conversation in regards to these new opportunities, because we want to be able to house more. Currently, with some of our housing, we partner with local apartments and actually recently had a recent conversation with a couple of hotel chains that are wanting to partner with us to provide opportunities for our youth. Quite naturally, I was going to go out and survey and make sure it's a safe existence for our young people.

Speaker 1:

should we need emergency housing, but eventually we want to have our own. So, definitely interested in that relationship and these conversations, we know a few people.

Speaker 2:

Yes, sir, yeah for sure. Well, this is awesome, man, this one of those days where we just get talking and have no idea how long it's been, but it's been amazing. And to Kev's point earlier, sometimes I picked it all up on the way and I'm like I'll listen to it again when we edit it. But I don't need to, because I pick this is. I can't wait till Monday. Yeah for sure, I can't wait to Monday to listen again. So just did thanks for hanging out with us.

Speaker 1:

Oh, it's my pleasure. So good man. Thank you all for this platform. You all are doing some special work. You're doing some call work, and so just keep doing it. Have a nice day.

Overcoming Struggles and Building Supportive Relationships
Transformative Journey and a Heroic Mother
Providing Equal Education Opportunities
Self-Awareness and Overcoming Challenges Journey
Healing Fatherhood Wounds and Finding Family
Rediscovering Community and Family Bonds
Journey of Faith, Love, and Growth
Navigating Faith and Personal Growth
Journey of Adaptation and Leadership
The Journey of Loss and Resilience
Navigating Challenges in the Education System
Supporting Foster Care Youth Aging Out
Engaging Conversation With Gratitude