BRAZORIA — It will take a village for Columbia-Brazoria ISD to achieve its educational goals this year, educators were told at the district's convocation Friday.
To help deliver that message, it took the Village People.
Superintendent Steven Galloway sang along to and provided the gestures to the iconic 1970s song "YMCA" as part of the district's motivation session for educators at Brazoria First Assembly. The musical number emphasized the district's theme, #villageCBISD.
“It’s going to take a village to do what we need to do,” Galloway said. “Our motto is, 'It’s a 13-year journey.' It takes 13 years, and after that 13th year, we are going to make sure they are prepared to do what they need to do.”
Every day of those 13 years, educators have the opportunity to impact young lives for the better, making the educators the most important people in the room, Pastor Tyler Owens of Brazoria First Assembly told the audience.
“You make the difference in kids’ lives every day,” Owens said. “The difference that you make changes the communities of this nation, and you are important.”
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen reinforced that message by sharing his personal story of growing up with dyslexia. Compassion and support from teachers made the difference in his life, he said.
“I had teachers who believed in me, and I had teachers who dealt with the fact that Dennis was different,” Bonnen said. “He was not simple and easy. … If I did not have compassionate, caring teachers, I would not have achieved much of anything.”
Keynote speaker Alex Sheen discussed the social movement and nonprofit he founded, “because I said I would,” which he started after his father died of small-cell lung cancer in September 2012.
“My father was a man of his word,” Sheen said. “Too often in this life, people say things like, 'I’ll get to it,' or 'Tomorrow.' Well, I’ve learned that one day, there is no tomorrow. The promises we make and we keep and those we choose to dishonor, that is what defines us and our character.”
The organization invests in character education and character development programming in schools and allows kids to have an opportunity to learn and practice concepts like honesty, self-control and accountability in the classroom, Sheen said.
The name of his nonprofit came from the eulogy he delivered at his father’s funeral, he told the educators. For the first time that day he handed out “Promise Cards” on which a person writes a promise from their life, big or small.
"You go to the person you are making that commitment to," Sheen said. "You tell them, 'I’m going to fulfill this promise, and when I do, I earn this card back. This card is a symbol of my honor, my respect.' You go, you fulfill your promise. You come back to that person. You earn your card back. You keep it as a reminder that perhaps you’re a person of your word."
The nonprofit has distributed more than 9.81 million “Promise Cards” in over 153 countries in its seven years.
“It turns out that it doesn’t matter what language you speak,” Sheen said. “It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, how much money you make, how old you are or who you love. We all understand the importance of a promise. It is something that is core and elemental to human existence.”
Sheen asked the audience to be a part of the movement in some way and gifted everyone 10 “Promise Cards.”
“Each and every one of you and me were born with the ability to make and keep a promise,” Sheen said. “One step at a time, not to change the whole world — that can be hard — but just the world around us.”
Sheen said it is becoming easier to lose faith in society, but people cannot let that happen.
“We cannot let the hatred that we see on the news ... this pain to overwhelm us,” Sheen said. “We most certainly cannot allow this hatred to become us. There are still good people left in this world.”
Sheen will return to C-BISD in October to work with students.