While growing up in a tough neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles, Roosevelt Johnson experienced the challenges facing young students, especially boys. Now, Mr. Johnson is creating a safe, fun and positive place where students can grow into adulthood.
“Early on in my career, I learned the phrase, ‘Before you can teach them, you have to reach them,’ from a veteran teacher,” said Mr. Johnson. “I spend a lot of time teaching students how to think instead of what to think. I challenge students to become aware of their surroundings.”
The program he started at Wilson Middle School, ManUP, is a club that reaches African-American and Latino male students who have been at-risk and struggling not only with academics and inappropriate behavior, but with life itself.
Johnson invites guest speakers into the classroom to share their stories, challenges, and triumphs; and to give the young men advice on becoming successful citizens in today’s society. He incorporates community service and stresses the importance of volunteering as part of the club’s mission. Many of the students who graduated from the ManUP program have since returned to campus to give back, creating a legacy of service.