Notes from Confluence Academy-South City: ‘You should be very proud.’
Notes from Confluence Academy-South City: ‘You should be very proud.’
Posted on 04/10/2015

Ronnie Banks and Kristoffer Quint teach at Confluence Academy-South City, and they lead a mentor group for boys at school, One Step at a Time. On April 9, the group attended a community panel discussion, “Can I Live? Imagining a Future for Black Males,” at Saint Louis University. The discussion was hosted by the African American Male Scholars Initiative and the SLU Cross Cultural Center.

The following note was written by Quint in an email to staff at South City. It is a sincere appreciation of the experience on behalf of the boys, and an example of how teachers impact students in different ways.

******** ******** *******

“Good morning team!

I wanted to let you know about a great experience Ronnie Banks and I shared with the eighth grade boys. Even if you don’t teach in the Junior Academy, please read, because these kids came up through our ranks, and you all have a daily impact on them by promoting and living our school community culture.

Last night, we were invited to attend a panel discussion at SLU called “Can I Live? Imagining a future for Black Males,” presented by the African American Male Scholars Initiative at SLU. Jason Cotton, Alvin Wesseh, Eeveon Dieckmann, Demetrius Simmons, Josh Hearn, Dante Marshall and David Manley attended. The event was intended for university scholars and tackled difficult, multi-layered subjects. Our boys sat for three hours, listening critically, trading dialogue about the topics with each other and asking probing questions and comments within our group such as, “What difference does it make if he is wearing a suit or a hoodie on stage? He still accomplished being a university president.” And “The professor didn’t answer that guy’s question about sexism and homophobia.”

THEN, during intermission, after the panel, and at the reception following, our boys scattered around the room to meet the scholars and the esteemed panel. They introduced themselves as “Hi, my name is ____, from Confluence Academy in South City.” At one point, I turned around and saw Eeveon and Demetrius on stage talking with the president of Harris-Stowe State University (who Eeveon invited to our graduation) and Alvin was arm-in-arm with a leading PhD researcher in education diversity, bringing her to meet me. Now we have a planned partnership for next year with SLU Black Male Scholars. Our boys were supportive of each other by describing each other’s strengths to the scholars in conversation, and recognizing when one of their buddies should meet someone else in the room.

Even after sitting through the event for three hours, and then a reception afterward, on the ride home they turned down the radio in my car so they could talk about the night. They asked each other who their favorite scholar was and discussed their most interesting comment or question.

I share all this with you because most of these kids have been with us since they were 5 or 6. Each one of you has served them, or their siblings, either currently or in the past, in some way. Whether it has been teaching them directly, participating in curriculum development that has guided their education, cheered for them at the basketball games, reminded them to tuck their shirts in, or even just saying hi in the hallway. Our shared examples, experiences and education has shaped them into young men that any one of us would be proud to call our own children.

We all know middle school kids are...middle school kids. So, I just wanted to share this very different snapshot of the kids you see clowning in class or cutting up in the hall. Your, OUR, effect on their lives and future is REAL.”

~Kristoffer Quint, instructional coach, and Ronnie Banks, physical education and health

SC mentor group

SC mentor group