Geoffrey Canada Inspires Students at Central HS

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Students at Valley Stream Central High School had the opportunity to meet Geoffrey Canada, a highly respected author, speaker and educational advocate. A Valley Stream resident, Canada visited the building on Feb. 8 in conjunction with Black History Month. Students were inspired as he described his background, greatest influences and strategies for success.

The renowned guest presenter discussed his journey, from growing up in the South Bronx and living in Wyandanch during his high school years to obtaining his master’s degree at Harvard University and eventually fulfilling his life mission as a leader in supporting children of low-income families. Canada shared encouraging messages with his audience at Central, emphasizing the possibilities that exist and opportunities to make a difference in the world. He also took the time to speak individually with students and answer their questions at the conclusion of his session.  
“Go and open up and explore different places,” he said. “If you keep looking, you’ll find something you really like.”

Canada explained that it is okay for high school students to be uncertain with regard to their future paths, noting that colleges’ liberal arts programs are intended to help them uncover their passions and aspirations. He also stressed the value of graduate school and the fact that students still have the prospect of attending Ivy League institutions, even if they struggle during their freshman year of undergraduate school, by working hard and earning high grades as seniors.

Canada is creator of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a network of programs that strives to help children in areas of poverty achieve success through support and services inside and outside of school. This organization, which assists more than 13,000 students in Harlem, serves as a model for similar initiatives around the world. Canada is also chairman of the Children's Defense Fund's board of directors.

In addition to his leadership roles, Canada is known for publishing two books that focus on poverty and violence. His writings have also been featured in a number of prominent publications and he was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“He had a very powerful message for students: do what inspires you, do what you love and be prepared,” said Board of Education President Dr. Frank Chiachiere.

“It hit home,” said Board of Education trustee Anthony Iadevaio. “He’s giving these kids inspiration – take something you believe in and go with it.”