When Adolph Brown walked into Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in a do-rag, zip up sweatshirt and baggy jeans, guests couldn’t have guessed he was a renowned international speaker. It wasn’t until he ran down the aisle and on to the altar to kick start the assembly that the Propel Charter Schools students and staff began to realize who he was.
|DON’T JUDGE A BOOK—Adolph Brown kicks off his keynote address.
The anti-bully assembly on Dec. 5, brought together 1200 students from nine Propel Charter Schools throughout the region to witness Brown’s entertaining and interactive presentation. As a passionate educator and inspirational speaker, Brown has become a leader in developing innovative programs to tackle anti-bullying strategies.
“What happens to bullies when they grow up? They go to jail,” Brown said. “They take people who are in jail and they go back and look at their school records. So if you’re making bad grades and you’re kind of a bully, you need to have the courage to start making some changes.”
Brown is a master teacher, trained anthropologist, and clinical and educational psychologist. He is also the founder of Wellness International LLC, a center that addresses social, physical, emotional, intellectual, educational and spiritual wellness.
At the beginning of his presentation, Brown gave the audience an inside look at what he experienced as a child growing up in a housing project. Often, when people talk about bullying, the conversation centers around cyber bullying and suicides associated with bullying, but Brown revealed how victims of bullying often turn to “street culture” or gangs as a method of protection from bullying.
“I didn’t understand that I could’ve stood up for myself. I didn’t know how to,” Brown said. “I took all that pain and you know what I decided to do, I pushed people away.”
The assembly was the result of an anti-bullying competition held by the Marcus L. Ruscitto Charitable Foundation, the Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association. Propel Homestead won the competition for their bullying prevention group, the S.W.a.T. Team, who worked to implement positive changes within the school culture at Propel Homestead.
Brown’s keynote kept the students engaged with music and humor, while forcing them to face the ways in which they bully others on a daily basis. His words emphasized the importance of education and having a positive self-image.
When asked whether the students had been victims of bullying or guilty of bullying others, the majority of students stood. A lot of the students also rose when asked if they knew others kids who used drugs or brought a weapon to school.
“What is character? Being a good person when no one is looking,” Brown said. “True character isn’t just doing it because we’re here today. You have to take it back with you. You stood up for a lot of things today.” According to national reports, bullying impacts 30 percent of students on a daily basis. In addition, an estimated 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying.