Jacarruem (Rudy) Bradford is a Senior Servant Leader Intern this summer at our Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program. Rudy has spent several summers working with the program in various cities throughout the country. This past year, he served as a third-grade teacher in Louisiana.
When Robin Robbins, the recently appointed principal of D. H. Stanton Elementary School, came to read to the scholars at Harambee during our first week of camp, she was so impressed with Rudy that she offered him an interview to join the staff right here in Peoplestown. Rudy will begin teaching at D. H. Stanton in August.
We couldn’t be more thrilled that Rudy will become part of the Peoplestown community and know that he will have a profound effect on the children with whom we work during the summer and throughout the year.
We asked Rudy to write about his own journey with the CDF Freedom Schools® program. In his own words, here are his thoughts.
Many people struggle wondering what their purpose in life is. I believe that we all were created for a reason and should be inspired to help others. Steven Pavlina once said, “Not believing that you have a purpose won’t prevent you from discovering it, just as a lack of belief in gravity won’t prevent you from tripping.”
With this in mind, I often ask myself, “Who am I?” “What am I supposed to do?” As I journey through life, I realize that I am like a bee searching for my honeycomb. The bee’s life purpose is to pollinate plants, collecting nectar to make honey, and keeping life on earth going.
Some say that discovering your purpose is the easy part. The hard part is keeping it with you on a daily basis and working on yourself to the point where you become that purpose. My purpose is to add value to the lives of others, helping to improve their quality of life. Being part of the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program has allowed me to find and pursue my destiny.
I have always loved working with children and have great passion for the different aspects of child development. I am an advocate for youth advancement. After working with children and with the CDF Freedom Schools® program for many years, I’ve learned that children just want to experience love. They want to feel that someone cares about them and that someone has their back. I admire the program for that very reason.
The Freedom Schools® program provides a warm atmosphere, surrounded by an array of diverse, talented, and innovative staff and scholars. It is like being part of a big cultured family. The Servant Leader Interns are with the scholars from the beginning of the day to the end, encouraging them to reach for greatness. We praise them for their accomplishments, which gives them the motivation they need to push forward without worrying about being denied or judged by their appearance, misfortunes, or lack of status clothing or shoes.
Making sure the day starts with positive vibes, from good morning chants during Harambee (“Pulling Together”), to united reading during the integrated reading curriculum, gives everyone that extra push to get through each eventful day. The program offers so many opportunities for everyone to grow - especially the scholars.
The Freedom Schools® program provides a platform for the scholars to flourish and express themselves through a variety of activities, cooperative group work, and a final presentation to display their many projects they worked on throughout the summer. Each scholar has his/her own talent and passion.
It is imperative that I get to know each scholar individually. Finding out the things they like or don’t like, what makes them happy or sad, helps inside and outside of the classroom. It allows the Servant Leaders to create different activities, chants, and even field trips. The scholars get to interact with different scholars from different backgrounds, schools, and cultures. All of these factors help to create a welcoming atmosphere so that everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and working together - even sharing personal stories and things about their family and community.
Through group activities and the reading curriculum, the scholars learn how to make a difference in themselves, their families, their communities, our country, and the world with hope, education, and action. The CDF Freedom Schools® program helps scholars find their voices.
Being a servant leader, an Ella Baker trainer, and a site coordinator has taught me so much about my history. Going to different workshops and training opportunities has helped mold me and encouraged me to be the best I can be. I have had the privilege of travelling the country with the Freedom Schools® program to places such as Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, Georgia, and Minnesota. Teaching scholars across the country has expanded my horizon and increased my capabilities as an educator.
It is proper for a leader to serve before leading. My experience as a Servant Leader inspired me to become an educator. Being a teacher has opened up many doors for me. I am able to live out my dreams and grow in my passion. Positively influencing the lives of youth does my heart well.
Being a consistent positive African American male role model offers stability for those who may lack stability in their homes. Being a confidant to the scholars also offers them serenity—knowing someone has their best interest at heart. As an educator, I am able to do all these things and more. Continuing my involvement in the CDF Freedom Schools® program helps me grow as an educator and person. Becoming a better version of myself allows me to meet new people and to gain new opportunities.
I recently received a staff position at D. H. Stanton Elementary School, located in Peoplestown. I have the CDF Freedom Schools® program to thank for helping mold me into a leader. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have found a place where I truly belong. My dream has become a reality and I am ready to meet this new challenge and opportunity.