AMERICAN GRADUATE: I'm A Star Foundation's Betty Burney

Jul 10, 2013

89.9 WJCT is participating in the American Graduate project supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  The goal of American Graduate is to reverse the national drop out crisis by identifying and then addressing the factors that cause students to leave school early.

Betty Burney, Executive Director of I’m A Star Foundation.

Betty Burney
Credit Communities in Schools

The I’m A Star Foundation is a leadership and service, learning organization. We work with middle and high school students and we train them to understand the essence of leadership which is service. We also help them to understand how to be leaders in their respective schools and their communities.

When we meet together, we do things such as looking at SAT power words. We also get them to understand how to work as a team. In order to graduate from high school, you have to be a team player, to work with your teachers, to work with your peers, to work with everyone in order to graduate.

But the other piece that we do that I think helps kids to graduate and to stay in school and to get motivated is that we tell the children that they are smart, they’re talented and they’re resilient. The French philosopher Descartes says Je pense, donc je suis—I think, therefore I am. And when kids think that they’re smart, when they know that they’re resilient, that they can bounce back from anything, they’re more apt to graduate.

It takes a true village to raise a child, parents can’t do it alone. We’re in a whole different society than we were in 1956. You know, it was your home, your parent, your neighborhood. Now the neighborhood is cyber. So the neighborhood is all over the globe. And some people will say well, why should I get involved? It’s not my child. Actually it is. Because as the late James Baldwin said for these are all our children and we will either pay for, or profit by, what they become.