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Posts Tagged ‘Tim Whitaker’

Know Your MW Staffers

“Never give up on anyone.”

Nelia Diaz De Fiore

Program Director, El Futuro

Where I Grew Up: Trujillo Coast, Bay Island Department, Honduras.

Education: UNAH Honduras (Pedagogia y Ciencias de la Educacion).  International Christian Institute Houston, TX (English as a Second Language) Kaplan University Houston, TX (International Studies).      

One of my biggest heroes: Jesús. He said kingdom of heaven belongs to children.

Favorite authors: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paulo Coelho, Pablo Neruda,

Currently reading: “The Leading Brain” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Most important thing to remember when teaching kids: Teach the way you would want your own kids to be taught. Never give up on anyone.

Dr. King On Education

“Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

As I engage in the so-called “bull sessions” around and about the school, I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education. Most of the “brethren” think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.

It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.

Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.

But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

The late Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, “brethren!” Be careful, teachers!

Morehouse College 1948

Why Mighty Writers

Know Your MW Staffers

“Kids think far deeper than you know.”

Evangeline Blair Smith

Program Director, Mighty Rivera Rec Center, 5th & Allegheny

Where I grew up: Germantown

College: Temple University

One of my biggest heroes is: My parents because I continue to learn how to help make the world better by watching them.

Favorite author: Lynn Reid Banks

Last book I read: “Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s  Most Unloved Plants,” by Richard Mabey.

Person who inspired me to appreciate writing; My grandmother, Mary Rose, who read to me until I could write. She created the changes she wanted to see in the world by writing letters her whole life and fearlessly tried her hand at new kinds of writing into her old age.

Most important thing to always remember when teaching kids: They have lots more to say than people think and they’re thinking far deeper than you know.

Know Your MW Staffers

“It is our responsibility to honor children.”


Program Director, MW West (39th & Lancaster)

Where I grew up:  West Philadelphia

College:  Temple University / Saint Joseph’s University

One of my biggest heroes is: Assata Shakur. The idea of giving birth while cuffed to a bed and being imprisoned in a men’s facility, yet still surviving to write her story, exemplifies Girl Power!

Favorite author: Anthony Bourdain.

Last book I read: Joseph Anton: A Memoir, by Salmon Rushdie.

Person who inspired me to appreciate writing: My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. O.  She taught me to read when I was three-years-old and I have loved words ever since. She never let me use euphemisms. She encouraged me to use the proper word for everything and to never be shy about what that might mean.

Most important thing to always remember when teaching kids: That they are just small people and our responsibility is to honor who they are.

The Power of Mindfulness

5 Tips for MW Parents.

Amy Banegas is program director at Mighty Writers North.

by Amy Banegas


Practice full presence with your child by disconnecting from all electronics. Work emails, text messages from family and friends can all wait. Unplug!


Tempting as it is to get aggravated when your child spills juice or doesn’t do well on a test, pause and take a breath instead. Remind yourself: accidents happen. Nobody’s perfect. Step outside the moment and into a space where you can breathe and cool down.


Take a moment in your day to ask your child engaging and open ended questions: How was school today? Really? What made the school day feel like that? How are your friends? What do you and your friends like to do at recess? Show with your questions that you’re interested in their day, their life and their feelings. Allow them to express themselves openly.


Welcome your child’s stories by being fully present. Smile. Make eye contact. Don’t interrupt when they stumble over their words or the story goes on and on. You don’t have to say much to show you’re listening. Children love to talk and tell stories. Share in the excitement. Embrace the moment.


The bustle of everyday life tends to consume most of our energy and time. We get caught up in the moment and lose sight of what can wait and what’s important in the moment. Carve out time with your children, whether for a game night, an afternoon walk, an hour of shooting hoops or baking goodies (all good for the soul). Connect through arts and crafts, watch movies together and, of course, make time for writing. Making time for them should be your biggest life priority.

Amy Banegas, program director at MW North, incorporates mindfulness when teaching writing to students.

“My Emotions Went Crazy”

Eric Perez is a student at Mighty Writers El Futuro.

by Erick Perez

I was only nine-years-old when I flew to Mexico to meet my grandma for the first time. I was going to have to go by myself, sadly. My parents couldn’t go because of their immigration status.

My journey started in the back of my parents’ car with a drive from Philadelphia to New York so I could take a direct flight. In the car, I felt a little nervous. Mostly because I didn’t know what was coming next.

When I got to the airport I saw people waiting in lines, people walking and people sitting waiting for their flight. I first had to go through security. I began to get nervous again, not because I had a weapon, or anything even close to that, but because I didn’t know what might be considered one. Once I passed through the metal detector, I felt silly about how nervous I’d been. I was just being cleared for safety reasons.

Once through security, I waved good-bye to my parents with some tears. I was already starting to get a little homesick. I was going to be away from my parents for months in a place where I didn’t know anyone. Walking to my plane, I stopped to look through a big glass window. In the distance I saw the sunrise shining bright. I was ready for this physically, but my emotions were going crazy. At the gate, an airport employee led me onto the plane along with a group of kids who were also traveling to Mexico.

At the entrance to the plane, there were two hostesses waving and welcoming everyone. Lucky for me, I got a window seat. One of the hostesses took me to my seat and asked me to stay there. I saw people passing by with bags. Meanwhile, I sat looking outside the window, just waiting to depart. Suddenly, a teenage girl and an older woman sat down in the two seats next to me. Later I found out they were mother and daughter.

“Tears were running down
my face non-stop.”

Suddenly there was a loud announcement. It was the pilot telling us we were going to lift off. At this point reality came to me. First, I had never been in a plane before. Second, what were the possibilities of the plane crashing? My heart was beating. Out the window, I could see us lift off and suddenly I started to cry, real crying. Tears were running down my face non-stop. I felt lonely, scared and sad. I held tightly to the side of the seat when I felt a touch on my hand. It was the teenage girl sitting next to me. She said “todo va a estar bien no tengas miedo.” (Everything will be fine don’t be scared.)

I started to calm down. Someone was with me after all. My heart slowed way down but then midway through the flight I starting to think about the fact that I was 30,000 feet above ground and a fall from here would be pretty deadly. What was I doing here? But I knew I had to try to enjoy my first time in a plane. I was supposed to, right? So I did.

A hostess gave me headphones so I could watch a movie. In the sky, 30,000 feet above sea level. Not many people get the chance to do that. I was living life to the fullest. When it was time to land in Mexico City, they asked all the passengers to put their seatbelts back on. When the plane’s tires touched the ground, it was very bumpy. My body jumped from my seat. Soon the hostess came for me and took me to where I could meet up with my grandma. I walked through a big corridor to a big open area where people were looking for their kids. My mom had shown me photos of my grandma. But there were so many faces.

I heard names being screamed, then, suddenly, “Erik!”

I tried to see who had shouted my name. I saw a woman looking at me but wasn’t sure if she was my grandma. She had glasses and she looked very young. But I felt much more secure when I got up close and saw she looked just like my mom! When I got to her, she hugged me, then she burst into tears. I was finally with her. I felt at home.

We need courage to try new things, to visit different places and to meet new people. Most of all we need the courage to be alone. I feel brave every time I remember how I took a chance to travel by myself all the way to Mexico. It’s that courage I think about every time I face obstacles. There’s no room inside of me anymore to be scared.

Erick  Perez is 12-years-old and in the seventh grade at Andrew Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia. He has been part of Mighty Writers El Futuro for three years.

Foreign Journalists and HBO Get Mighty!

Ben Yagoda talks to MW kids about fake news at Mighty Writers.

Foreign journalists on a Foreign Press Center Reporting Tour, here to learn how the US addresses media literacy and misinformation, stopped by Mighty Writers yesterday to observe MW teens participating in our workshop titled, “Fake News in America.”

Journalists Ben Yagoda and Matt Katz led a 90-minute workshop with MW teens, exploring how to best determine the reliability of the news we’re getting.

Ben Yagoda has been author, coauthor or editor of twelve books and has written for the New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, The New York Times and Rolling Stone among many others; Katz reports for WYNC and National Public Radio and is the author of a biography of former NJ governor Chris Christie. Katz also won a Livingstone Award for journalists under age 35 for his coverage on Afghanistan.

Matt Katz talks about the importance of fact checking.

The 24 visitors who came to MW are TV, print and online journalists from Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Latvia, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Thailand, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.

And HBO was there to film it all for a documentary that will air next year.

The Mighty Gospel Breakfast w/Tribute to The Dixie Hummingbirds


Sunday, Sept. 30, 10am, Girard College

The Mighty Gospel Breakfast
w/ Tribute to The Dixie Hummingbirds
by the Girard College Gospel Choir

Girard College
Located at 2101 S. College Avenue
in the Fairmount section of the city.
(Free Parking)


Ticket price includes one free ticket for a Mighty student!

Any dollars realized from MightyFest will go directly to our Rec Center Initiative.

Tickets are tax-exempt.

Tickets for other MightyFest events.