Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who had an electrifying style as an NBA all-star and who has gone on to achieve success and recognition in the business world, says schools and teachers have to do more to support students, especially those in urban communities.
In an exclusive interview for the Verizon Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, Johnson, the CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, discusses the critical role that schools and teachers need to fill to support student achievement in and out of the classroom. He also has some advice for students, stating:
"You don't ever want to give an excuse. You know the challenges already, so, okay, you have them. But that doesn't stop you from bringing a good attitude to the school, being a great student at school, being a great person at your school."
Johnson also said teachers also need to encourage students to have not just one dream for their futures, but several dreams.
"It's very important that our kids understand that you don't have to have one dream," he said. "I think it's very important that we have a few dreams. I was dreaming that I was going to be in the NBA and that I was going to be a businessman. It wasn't until a teacher made me feel that way and gave me the confidence to go on."
During his conversation with Verizon Foundation President Rose Stuckey Kirk, which is only available in the Verizon Thinkfinity Community section of the Verizon Thinkfinity.org website, Johnson also urged teachers to see and experience how their students live.
"Teachers to should go by [students'] homes, go by where they play and have fun," Johnson said. That will enable teachers to understand what's going on in the lives of their students "and then you can better teach them," he said.
Kirk said, "What struck me about Mr. Johnson was his accessibility. Students identify with him because, despite all of his success, he is authentically connected to urban America through his business and philanthropic ventures."
Johnson built Magic Johnson Enterprises to foster economic empowerment in ethnically diverse urban communities. The Magic Johnson Foundation is the company's philanthropic arm and supports the same effort through educational empowerment. Through the foundation's Community Empowerment Centers, urban communities are provided with access to technology resources and programming that educate and empower individuals to better themselves.
"These technology centers mean so much," Johnson said. "It's one thing to have them there. It's another thing for someone to say, 'I improved my life because I went there.' That's what it's all about."
Johnson's interview is the third installment of the Verizon Thinkfinity Education Speaker Series, an online series that enables educators and parents to connect with some of the most inspiring voices in education.
The series is available exclusively to members of the Thinkfinity Community, a virtual home to engaging, thoughtful dialogue on some of today's most challenging classroom issues.