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High School Speaker's Bureau at Brooklyn Community Services Inspires At-Risk Students to Achieve Success Over Adversity

The Speaker's Bureau at Brooklyn Community Services Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service celebrates 4th Anniversary motivating at-risk transfer students. The speakers are Brooklyn notables who have overcome obstacles and hardships in their life to get where they are. They share advice with students on how to achieve over adversity.

Brooklyn, NY, November 17, 2016 --( For four years, the Speaker’s Bureau at Brooklyn Community (BCS) Services’ Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service (BHSLCS) has been inspiring the school’s at risk students to dream big, set goals, and continue working hard through talk and mentoring sessions with high profile Brooklynites spanning the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to Alvin Ailey Dance Company.

Situated in Clinton Hill, BHSLC is a transfer high school for over-age, under-credited youth, ages 16-21. BHSLCS serves 220 students who have either fallen behind their classmates in conventional high school settings, or have previously dropped out. Some of the benefits at BHSLCS include small classes, earn up to 15 credits a year, paid internships, supportive counselors, college bound direction, college tours , Regents preparation and the networking with professionals through the Speaker’s Bureau.

“The Speaker’s Bureau recruits people from a range of professions who are successful and dynamic and doing cool things,” said Steve Williamson, an attorney and BCS board member, who founded and coordinates the program. “The speakers are people who have overcome obstacles and hardships in their life to get where they are. In this way, our students are not only exposed to new ideas and professions, but also feel a connection to the speakers.”

This November, BCS and Williamson celebrated the Speaker’s Bureau’s fourth anniversary with a special reception at the Brooklyn Marriott featuring students and speakers. After participating in the Speaker’s Bureau, Geo Derice, a motivational speaker and author of “The Thirst is Real: The Teen’s Guide to Maximizing Your True Potential,” continued to mentor the students. “Students text me and tell me about different projects they are working on. The cool thing about it is that mentoring takes education and it kind of fills the gaps,” explained Geo, who grew up in East Flatbush and lives in Sheepshead’s Bay. “I had a young gentleman who graduated a few years ago who was working on a clothing line and he would send me images of the clothing. It’s rewarding to have those types of relationships.”

Kern Edwards, a recent graduate of BHSLCS, found himself disengaged and failing classes at his previous high school. However, at BHSLCS, he found himself enthusiastically balancing classwork and paid internships. In spring 2017, he is enrolled at Kingsborough Community College to study accounting and photography. “I would like to thank all the speakers for guiding me and inspiring me on my journey,” said Edwards. “If they could make it in life, so could I.”

The speakers that have volunteered to participate in the Speaker’s Bureau share their stories, achievements, struggles, and career paths with the students. The speakers are successful professionals, businesspeople and artists and activists who share similarities with the students, either by background, neighborhood, personal struggle, family challenge or ethnicity. Speakers have included: Honorable Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix, Associate Justice of the New York State Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department; Janesse Dawson, an Assistant District Attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office; Tracy Inman, co-Director of The Ailey School at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Jocelyn Cooper co-founder of AfroPunk; George Littlejohn, co-founder and co-owner of Purpose Records; Frantz Pierre-Louis, Jr., a co-founder of Team First and former professional basketball player; Soul Cycle’s Charlee Atkins and Jennifer Daniel, founder of the Princess Chambers prom program.

“The people that come in have had lives like our students have gone through,” said Stacey Fischler, Program Director of BHSLCS. “When they share that story and make that personal connection to our kids, I think it gives them tremendous hope that they can be successful as well.”

BHSLCS continues to welcome positive, inspiring role models to connect with the students through the Speaker’s Bureau. The format is approximately 35 minutes and typically consists of a speech followed by an interactive discussion or Q&A. While the time commitment is short, the positive impact on the kids is huge.

“There is a real need for students to be exposed to all that’s out there in this world,” said Williamson. “The speakers in our program introduce them to many different industries and professions, giving them opportunities to meet and interact with people who inspire and enlighten them.”

For more information on the Speaker’s Bureau at BHSLCS, please check out
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Brooklyn Community Services
Fern Gillespie

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