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Jerome Ellison

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About Me

My name is Jerome Ellison. I'm a teacher, mentor and lifelong learner dedicated to education and youth empowerment.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised by my single grandmother. She became my legal guardian when I was 12, following the death of my parents because she did not want my older brother and I to go into foster care or fall victim to our circumstances.

As a kid, I watched my grandmother selflessly give her all to keep a roof over our head, food on the table, and clothes on our back. Her strength through adversity is how I learned the importance of sacrifice, perseverance, hard work, determination and the power of positive thinking.

There were numerous times in my life when I was ashamed of being an orphan. When I felt like I was being punished by the world and I wanted to give up. This was often during Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s day, Father’s day, and the many other holidays that families come together to celebrate life. These events became the time when I was forced to remember and mourn death and think about all the things that I didn’t have in my life. It made me believe that I was too underprivileged to ever make it out of the inner city alive or graduate from college. It was always so much easier to believe that I would become a statistic because there were more people who I knew that ended up dead or in jail than the combined amount of people in my family or even in my neighborhood who graduated college. This was both a harsh reality and heavy burden.

But whenever I was down, I had my grandmother and the memories of my mother pushing me to put my education over everything. They helped me realize that I could beat the odds as long as I was willing to make sacrifices, work hard and focus on my education(formal and informal).

It was their push for me to focus on my education that led to more success in school which allowed me to finally see and reach my potential.

One of the proudest moments of my life, was standing on stage as a first generation college graduate in Brooklyn receiving a bachelor's degree in education. My grandmother and other family members watched in the crowd and I know in my heart that my mother was watching and smiling from the skies above.

This is why I love being a teacher. Mainly because I am a living testament to the immeasurable power of education. Education(formal and informal) taught me focus, discipline, work habits, determination, empathy, self love and many other key life skills. Education is the key piece that changed the trajectory of my life and I want to do as much as I can to pay it forward.

This is why I also attained my master's degree in education and why I am dedicated to education and youth empowerment for the rest of my life.

Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about me.

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This I Believe- “Education over Everything”

Confusion and blank stares sit upon my face,
As my mom sits upon the stairs with tears upon her face,
In her hands I see paper,
but in her eyes I see disgrace,
I’m thinking to myself, why is she in this state?
Then she looked me in the eyes and said “Put your Education Over Everything”!!
I realized, she had my middle school rejection letter in her hands,
She places it in my hand,
and again she says,
“Put your Education over Everything”!!
Out of respect I stood silent but in my mind I said a lot,
I thought,
“Even though I was not accepted, I know Im not a fool,
It’s just another stupid school, with too many rules,
Plus their uniforms are not even cool”
But in reality, I just stood there and cried, Not because I was denied,
but because my mom was disappointed and I didn’t understand why,
As she went on and on about how she never expected, for me, her son,
to ever be rejected,
I still didn’t get it,
I just walked to my room and called it a night,
little did I know this conversation would save my life,

Less than 2 years later my mother was no longer living,
She succumbed to the disease that killed my father three years prior,
But the feelings of letting her down lived deep in my heart,
right next to the images of her body breaking apart,
and directly under that, these words were engraved really dark.
“Put your Education over Everything”!!
It finally hit me,
These are the words that she wanted to instill in me,
before she had to leave,
She knew she didn’t have much longer to live due to this disease,
She knew I would be, “an orphan”,
Through my many trials and tribulations,
These are the words that helped steer me in the right path,
Straight to perfect attendance,
Above the honor roll,
Right through high school, with great grades,
because I always remembered that day, and the painful expression on Mama’s face,
And when it came time to apply to colleges,
to write an essay for multiple scholarships,
“Education Over Everything” was exactly what I titled it,
This was my motivation to be all I can be, to climb mountains with these words
tattooed on my sleeves,
looking down at it every time I was in dire need,
Of Motivation!

And, when it came time to become a first generation college student,
I had the mental strength and perseverance needed to get through it.
When it was time to move to a town in the middle of nowhere,
I had no fear, I was ready,
When it was time, to be a walk on the scene with the baseball team, I was
When it was time to work in the campus kitchen to pay tuition, I was ready.
When I leave my college baseball team, and my childhood dream, I was ready,
When my college degree was in doubt and I felt like dropping out, I was ready,
To work three part time jobs, and be a full time student,
Because again, I had the mental strength and perseverance to get through it,
And on college graduation day,
I stood on the stage,
Chosen to represent all of the “Education” students,
In the pouring rain, I knew it,
Was my mother’s tears, of joy,
and through the cheers,
All I heard in my ears,
Were the words “Put your Education over Everything” in my mother’s exact voice.
I looked into the sky, to let the rain hit my face,
As my future as a teacher awaits,
I thought to myself “Education over Everything”.

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