M.O.R.E. Program Impresses Johns On Cincinnati Visit
A group of young men talking about why they joined a new high school club might appear ordinary, but the discussion created something to be treasured, said David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
“Lots of people spend their whole lives searching for this kind of space and not finding it,” Johns said. “This is why I like being in spaces like this, to be reminded that all of us are seeking the same thing — to be around people who affirm the good in us.”
Johns visited Cincinnati’s Shroder High School on April 10, 2014, to chat for more than two hours with a dozen students and their leaders involved in Cincinnati Public Schools’ M.O.R.E. program. The program, now in 14 Cincinnati Public Schools (eight elementary and six high schools), is funded through the federal Race to the Top grant.
M.O.R.E. — Men Organized, Respectful and Educated — was created in Cincinnati Public Schools in 2011 as an initiative designed to nurture academic success and strong character development among African-American and other at-risk young men.
“We want our M.O.R.E. students to become proud of being educated young men,” said William Johnson, coordinator of Cincinnati Public Schools’ M.O.R.E. program. “M.O.R.E. strives to save the lives and expand the minds of our young men, both mentally and socially.”
During the far-ranging chat, the young men described to Johns the strong impact of M.O.R.E. on their lives, how it offers them role models and keeps the focus on academic work and thinking ahead to what they wanted to do after high school graduation. Johns encouraged the young men to take advantage of every opportunity, whether in person or via the Web, to visit different colleges and universities to find the right fit, “to explore who you are and how you want to move through this world.”
“Go to college, graduate — and then decide if it’s not for you,” Johns said, jokenly. “There are thousands of colleges out there. There is a school that is uniquely designed for you. Think about how you learn best. I needed small, personable spaces. But I had friends who wanted large lecture halls.”
Marcus, a senior at Shroder and in his second year with M.O.R.E., said the program helped fill the gap created when his older brother left for the Navy and Marcus felt himself drifting.
“I had no one to look up to. Now I have Mr. Johnson,” Marcus said. “MORE has taught me there are various ways to lead. Now I see myself as a big brother to other students. M.O.R.E. has taught me to be the better man, to be the bigger man…. They even taught us how to set the dinner table right!”