Mickens, The Great Educator

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Brother Mickens provided a valuable lesson for all of us. When confronted with crisis or even tragedy, transform those negatives into positives.

[Education]

During Mickens' 18 year tenure at Boys and Girls High School, "The High," I would occasionally come by and walk the halls with Mick as we discussed issues of public education in New York City, and the status of the Black community.

The ease and informality in which Mick's students addressed him was clearly reflective of a love and respect rarely seen between a school principal and his or her students.

The other thing I found remarkable was that Mick seemed to know every student by name, who that student hung out with, and how they were doing in their class work. I never ceased to be amazed at this phenomenon.

Standing on the foundation established by Phillip Cox and others, Mick, during his tenure, moved Boys and Girls High from being a school of last resort to the high school of first choice of most young people from within Bedford Stuyvesant, and in deed, from within central Brooklyn.

On one of my visits with Frank, I asked him What could he set in place to guarantee that once he chose to leave, The High would be able to maintain its positive and collaborative spirit, its disciplined and respectful atmosphere, and its continued progress toward academic excellence?

Before Mick could answer, I rephrased: “Mick, how can we take what you are doing here, and spread it throughout the system?” Frank looked at me as if I was from Mars, and I never got an answer.

Brother Mickens is gone now, but unlike many, he did receive some of the recognition and some of the accolades he so richly deserved. His legacy, of course, is in the minds of the thousands of men and women throughout the country, and probably throughout the world, who realize and acknowledge that their experiences while students, under Frank Mickens’ Principalship, significantly helped determine their successful adjustment to society.

As to the question that never got answered by Mick: All of the creative and effective programs and interventions that were implemented successfully by Frank Mickens that helped develop self-esteem, confidence, and esprit de corp among the student body is because of Mickens’ total commitment to our children, and to our community.

Our brother experienced great tragedy in his life. a lesser man might have chosen to live in a cocoon, or go through life aimlessly or selfishly. Brother Frank Mickens chose to transform his anguish, his anger, his pain into dedication and commitment to save our children.

If "necessity is the mother of invention", then dedication is the father of creativity.

Brother Mickens provided a valuable lesson for all of us. When confronted with crisis or even tragedy, transform those negatives into positives.

Well done my brother.


Al Van is a New York City Council Member

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