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“Great teachers empathize with kids, respect them, and believe that
each one has something special that can be built upon.”-Ann Lieberman

Being a first-generation college student, Derrick never thought that
he would have an opportunity to attend college. He was quiet, sat in
the back of his classes, and he was a struggling learner. He lacked
motivation, and he did not see the value in what he was learning in
school. After high school, he was afforded the opportunity to attend
college--which he almost passed up. His struggles continued, but his
sophomore year, at the age of 20, one of his college professors took
an interest in him.  She gave Derrick his first book, A Gathering of Old
Men
by Ernest Gaines. He read it in its entirety, and for the first
time, he started to feel differently about school. For a long time,
Derrick thought that reading that book changed his life because it
ignited a love of reading in him. However, in hindsight, he realized
that it was the interest that his college professor had taken in him
that helped him choose to learn continuously.

After graduating from college with a B.A in English, Derrick decided
that he had gone too long with poor relationships with teachers. As a
result, he started a career in education in Jackson, Mississippi as a
high school English teacher. His philosophy was that exceptional
teaching must include meaningful relationships that inspire students
to stretch their limitations--much like his college professor did for
him. Derrick later went to receive a Master’s Degree in English and
Education, and he has held positions from a teacher, academic coach,
and school administrator, just to name a few. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology with an emphasis in Instruction and Cognition. Derrick’s mission is to
affect each person so that they never have to wait as long as he did
to choose to love learning. To accomplish this mission, he knows that
relationships must come first.

In his free time, Derrick loves to spend time with his wife, Chelsia,
and their four children. He also enjoys coaching youth basketball,
reading (mostly about superheroes), and writing.  He maintains the
notion that the best way to reach individuals is through building positive,
long-lasting relationships. He contends, “A student’s reason for
struggling should never because they did not feel like a teacher was
invested in them.”

Derrick Calvert