Go Back

Our Stories

How an educator connection can change everything

James Harris was a 4.0 student … who went to a youth detention center for possession of marijuana. On this month’s YE AND ME podcast, James shares how his Youth Entrepreneurs educator turned this negative moment into a positive future.

“The same teachers who caught me [with marijuana] are the same teachers who provided me with opportunities,” James explains, stating that when he returned to school, his teachers had signed him up for Youth Entrepreneurs. “Ms. Rollins understood me beyond my mistakes” James says. “Through YE I learned about recognizing opportunity. You’ve got to chase opportunity, not dollars.”

Ms. Rollins convinced James to apply and compete for a YE partnership with Usher’s New Look, an organization that transforms the lives of underserved youth through a 10-year comprehensive program. James got in, and his life has never been the same. “You’ve got to be willing to work,” he says. “Take advantage of opportunities. If you’re skipping out on class, then you’re skipping opportunities for yourself.” 

James hopes more educators will make the kind of genuine student connections that changed his life. “Help them identify what their passion is,” James says. “Passion can help someone identify and define their purpose in life. You don’t know what dividend that could yield.”

Listen now. 

Listen on Google Play Music

Discussion Questions

  • If James hadn’t been receptive to the teachers who reached out to help him learn from his failure, what might have been different?
  • If James’ teachers hadn’t made the extra effort to help him, what might have been different?
  • How did taking the YE class transform James’ mindset?
  • What role has opportunity played in James’ life?
  • Thinking about James’ story, what lessons can you apply in your own life?