My Urban League Experience: The Good, Bad, and Ugly!

Originally published on July 25th, 2014.

When you are asked to speak to kids you can forget that just as much as you are there to teach them something they will, in turn, teach you something.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to 40+ kids that are involved in the Urban League summer enrichment program for high school kids in St. Petersburg, FL. To me, this was an exciting moment because I enjoy speaking with kids. Nothing helps me prepare more thoughtful presentations than knowing that my audience will be high school kids.

I was up late the night before, this time not watching YouTube videos, but preparing information for my talk. Of course I did a good job but this post is about the results of what I saw and my impression, so let’s get into it.


Mrs. P is a longtime friend of mine that leads the program in the classroom sessions. As I approached the open library area I didn’t hear any kids only her speaking with them about the importance of doing things the correct way. She was the ultimate momma bird. This was her flock and I could feel the love that she has for these students. When she spoke to me the other day about the kids I could tell she was proud of them but knew there was a lot of work to be done with each of them.

There was a good energy from the room. The kids flowed from place to place with as much respect as I have ever seen in high school kids.

As I went through my presentation there were many kids that were interested in the books that I had published. Multiple questions were asked in relation to the book and I wasn’t prepared with enough to disperse to the students.

There was a sense of hope with these students. As much as they hear the “Live your dreams” mantra, it seemed as these students believed that something good was going to happen in their lives. It was refreshing to be around that type of hope again.

I loved the opportunity to speak and I could have been there all day.


If there is a good there has to be a bad. As I watched Mrs. P. work, teach, and love these students I wondered about the loss of momentum once the program was over. To me, it seems as if these kids need a Mrs. P., for longer than 6 weeks. Mrs. P., is good for them but her time is limited so her momentum with these students will be broken in a few short weeks.  I believe they will remember her teachings but we all need additional support to achieve great things in life.

I wondered if there was a follow-up program or session so that these students could see a familiar face when life got tough. The bad news was that those young kids wouldn’t have a lot of time with Mrs. P., but they need more time. Change happens with a consistent message. I believe that there is great message that will end in a few weeks and that is a bad thing.


Just as I was ready to leave one of Florida’s famous thunderstorms rolled through and I was forced to sit in the back of the room for a bit. This was one ugly storm on the radar so I decided to work on some emails.

While I was in the back Mrs. P. and Mr. Faulkner spoke from the heart to these kids. Mrs. P. led with Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Women, a poem that has reminded her on how to carry herself.  Her voice, took me back to our church days when she would have a lead role in our plays. The power in Mrs. P’s voice had the room in silence.

She shared deep parts of her life and her path. She shared how she weathered terrible storms but was proud to say she was still standing. I was happy to see her still standing and doing wonderful things for her community.

I was hit with the thought that such an ugly storm caused me to witness such a powerful teaching lesson that I would have missed. I don’t always know what being blessed is but that moment helped me to understand what it may feel like.


  • Someone else’s hell is always hotter than yours.
  • Storms yield great results if you let them.
  • This Urban League program is powerful because of this team.
  • These kids have hope in a great future.
  • I miss being teaching and working with kids.
  • They actually wanted my book.
  • We need more Mrs. P’s.
  • I have to find a way to do more talks.
  • Our community is our responsibility.

Thank you Mr. P. and the Urban League kids for having me in to share my story and teaching me more than I ever expected to learn that day.

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Pierce Brunson , M.Ed., is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, and spends his time working as a mentor and speaker while developing businesses that help improve the high school experience for students and teachers. He has over a decade of experience teaching in the public school system as a high school Social Studies teacher, majoring in World History and Sociology. Pierce believes everyone can do more to help improve the education system in their local communities, which is part of the backbone of any society. Pierce’s advice is simple: stop complaining and do something to help improve the situation. Good people have to stop being afraid to fight for what they believe in. Get in the game, help others, share culture and move the world toward equality and justice. Connect with Pierce at,, and

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