Dear Mr. Dobbs,
What began as you being my 7th-grade basketball coach, then a mentor, has now morphed into a friendship. Since 2001, when we met, you have taught me a lot about myself. I was fortunate to have a great father at home who taught me everything I needed to grow up to be a good man, but you showed me the importance of being an educator. There are three people who I credit for being the educator I am today: James Lloyd my fifth-grade teacher; Eugene Bailey, my college professor; and you Mr. Dobbs. It was in 2001 that you had a vision for a program, Young Men of Purpose. This program would address the crisis that many young men my age had to endure. You stated in your book, “Our young men are the future of our nation. We should make sure they are positioned well to succeed and to contribute positively to their communities and society at large.” That was the vision you had, and the vision that many of us back in the multi-purpose room at New Augusta North Public Academy followed and believed.
I want to thank you, Mr. Dobbs, for being the educator that you are. During this teacher appreciation week, I want to thank you for all the things you have done in my life. I want to thank you for the invitation over 15 years ago to attend your wedding. I want to thank you for the opportunity in 7th grade, even though I was hurt, to still be a part of the basketball team in some capacity. This was the first example of you not giving up on me. I want to thank you for when I needed a second chance, you gave it to me as a teacher. I want to thank you for mentoring me as a teacher for that year and encouraging me to take the leap and become a principal. That year I spent as a teacher under you was a contributing factor in me becoming the leader that I am. I thank you for that. You taught me in these 17 years that I have known you about character, citizenship, and academics. These are the three building principle of your Young Men of Purpose Mentoring Guide but they have become the three guiding principles I have used as an educator.
Character: Character for me as an educator is the very foundation on which I stand. You said in your book when you have a strong foundation of character, you can stand tall as a leader in your community. As I am growing into a leader, I hold true to the importance of my character. I know my character represents who I am as a man, who my students see daily, and who I am even when no one is watching.
Citizenship: Building off the character piece, citizenship allows for me to overcome the difficulties that come my way. Citizenship is about how I live my life. Citizenship represents the decisions I make and my behaviors towards others. I learned from you that people often do not reach their potential because of the actions that lead them to adverse situations. People who take citizenship to heart will have a positive impact that eventually allows them to reach their fullest potential in life.
Academics: You told me awhile back that an uneducated man can never prosper. It was this guiding principle that would shape my entire life and now my career. Academics led me to become a teacher and educator. I know the importance that academics played in my life. Through academics, doors opened in my life that I never imagined would open.
Since then, over the last 17 years, I have seen Young Men of Purpose go from a group of 7th graders in a room to you speaking all over the country spreading the word that, “I am a Young Man with a Purpose.”
During this Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to say thank you, Mr. Dobbs. You have been valuable in my life, and your impact has helped me not only scholastically and professionally, but personally as well. You helped create a foundation that I needed to be successful in today’s world. You taught me the importance that a black man in education has on a school. I was fortunate enough to have that representation of a black male educator that I have striven to be daily. With each year as I get older a saying you had becomes truer, “We won’t always be young men, but we will always have a purpose.”
David McGuire, YMP Lifetime Member ‘2001
“This is my life, and I am a Young Man with a Purpose.”