So as most of you know, I have been preparing for a Leadership Conference hosted by the Western Regional Council on Educating Black Children where I was asked to present a couple of workshops as well as give a "greeting" at a general session. Well it took place this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles and man, it was a great experience.
First off I originally was only planning to do the greeting on Fri, followed by one workshop, and then another workshop co-facilitated with my mentor and mentee on Saturday. But a few days before, I received a phone call asking if I would be willing to present two back to back workshops on Thursday because they had a last minute cancellation- and of course I agreed. Now let me give you a little back story....
1) I have never presented at this type of larger scale conference before, but I have been to plenty of them and I have even organized a few smaller scale ones so I figured I would be ok.
2) By nature I am a huge procrastinator so although I knew my material to present- I waited and waited to formally organize it- but for some reason that is how I seem to work best.
3) Things always seem to happen all around the same time in my life, which forces me to have a zillion and one things to do like:
a) on Monday lil Shawn got sent home from school with a fever and the school has a 24 hour incubation period so he had to stay home on Tuesday as well- so you know i got absolutely no work done
b) I am a volunteer art teacher at the girls school and the Principal asked me to be the coordinator for this upcoming art show for our school site. Its not a big deal, I just had to select art work to be displayed, stick it in a frame, print labels and drop off on FRIDAY- which was also the day of the conference.
c) Friday was also Dr. Suess's birthday and Parent's were encouraged to come read with their child for the first hour of school. So of course because Shanel is the sentimental type, I had to go read with her- Chloe is like whatever LOL.
4) My creativity is both my gift and my curse because I am always coming up with great ideas in my sleep and am so compelled to wake up and implement them. So in the case of the leadership conference, I was doing a workshop entitled, "The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree: The Amazing Power of Youth Mentorship" and so I wanted to get some apples and wrap them in cello with a bow and a card attached with my contact info on one side and some personal affirmations on the other for the participants to take with them. It was cute- but man I really need some help for this sickness :)
Ok so back to the conference. Day one general session ran over time (black folks can't never get the timing together) so it forced the presenters to shorten their workshop. Now I have prepared for a 70 minute workshop and they announced for us to shave off 15 minutes and I was cool with that- but no sooner than 30 minutes into my presentation- the facilitator pops in and holds up a sign that says 5 minutes left. Now I am not a mathematical genius but I know that 70 minutes - 15 minutes does not equal 35 mins. And to top it off, I was told to prepare for 25 people in my workshop x 2 workshops, but for some reason I had over 40 people in my first, SHORTENED workshop. All in all I did the best that I could and got nothing but positive feedback despite the challenges. The second workshop was the full 70 minutes and had about 10 people in it so it was a perfect balance afterwards. By the time I got home, I jumped under the covers and was fast asleep getting ready for round two tomorrow.
Friday after the Dr. Suess and art work drop off, I made it to the conference just in time for lunch :) and prepared to address the crowd. I was excited because sitting front and center was Margarite Lamotte, LAUSD School Board member whom I have been trying to get to sponsor my foundation for a while. My mother proudly went over to her and informed her that "her baby" would be speaking, and Mrs. Lamotte smiled and nodded. I took the stage started into the greeting and it was so surreal because all the other speakers had to ask people to stop talking, and you could hear the servers in the background picking up dishes- but it was dead silent in the room and I had actively engaged the audience with my story. I felt great about it and afterwards had so many people offering gratitude and appreciation for the message that I had delivered and made a lot of contacts. My workshop this day was full of Spanish speaking participants and so we had a translator in the room- but it was one of the best, interactive and impactful in my opinion. We had a lot of dialogue and I believe those parents left with a new outlook on developing the leaders within themselves and their children.
Saturday was my apple day so I spent the morning working on my project LOL, then made it to the conference again in time for lunch :) Actually it was in time to hear Mr. Blair Taylor, President / CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League talk about all of the great things that his organization has done for Crenshaw High School- including improving graduation rate by 10% and turning the school around after the Accreditation loss :) ANYWAY it ran long as predicted and because this was the last day of the conference- the audience started to dwindle. By the time we got up to do the workshops- we started with one lady in the audience and by the time we ended it was about 10 total participants. The workshop was great- the content was so informational and I look forward to doing it at more conferences.
Overall it was a great experience. I probably will not do so many workshops at one conference- it was very exhausting, but well worth it! Thank you to all of you that sent your prayers and well wishes. They were heard!