Upon all honesty…

Many of you who know me personally, know that I am very connected online! I am heavy on the social networks and am spawning an online youth, political movement in Indianola and throughout the Mississippi Delta. On one network, I have posted an honesty box. I allow those who visit my profile to submit the good and the bad about my campaign, the current state of Indianola, and ideas for change in the Delta… all anonymously.

Here is one such submission:

Well , I think something that would be a good idea for Indianola is to make programs available to the youth. there are alot of big facilities that are not being used start several after school programs and tutoring to help guide the younger generation.

My response:

I had an earlier inquiry about education and feel that turning focus towards the youth of Indianola is a key factor in our success.

I would like to further encourage the Teach For America program throughout the Delta. The exchange of culture and ideas between the visiting teachers and the community is very much needed. Exposure is key for our young people. Keeping them imaginative and creative stimulates growth. We currently have the B.B. King Museum which provides certain historical and musical facts about the area, but there needs to be additional facilities in the city to foster this imaginative and creative growth.

In addition to the Teach for America program, I would like to work with the Superintendent of Education and push standardized testing preparedness. Mississippi as a whole needs to get out of its educational slump. I have discovered that high test grades equals money in alot of school districts. Once the scores change to the positive, outside interest will peak. I have spoken with outside business owners who will not bring their families here due to our struggling public school system. This very much needs to change.

Further, I have been researching the addition of etiquette classes to the public school curriculum. This will provide “home training” for many young people. I’m talking about the fundamentals of life… learning how to speak in the presence of adults, dress for success, and how to respect and treat the opposite sex. There are grants available to do this outside of the school setting as well.

In addition, I have tapped into a program that has proven quite successful in several larger cities. It involves “at-risk” teens and placing them in community jobs such as housing revitalization, city beautification, and clean-up. These kids learn a new trade and have a sense of self-worth and community.

Thank you for your inquiry. I would hope to further elaborate on these items. I am one of the younger candidates, chiming in at 36 and I feel that youth is the key to Indianola’s success. We need to positively impact the mindset of all ages and force change. I would appreciate your support in my efforts and help spread this vision throughout Indianola. Thanks again for your support.

Additional comments will be posted as they are received. If you have something to say, post it now as a response or call 662-298-4596.

Let’s help shape Indianola’s future!

About Mario Strong

Celebrating blues culture and promoting roots music worldwide. Fully engaged in an ongoing personal campaign towards raising social awareness and promoting a healthy consciousness throughout the Mississippi Delta. View all posts by Mario Strong

2 responses to “Upon all honesty…

  • Maegan

    How would you handle parents who feel that these classes would interfere with their home training or who might take it as an insult to their parenting skills. Being a mother myself I want the best for my child and education is part of it. I have complete confidence in my parenting skills and believe that I am providing my child with the best lessons in life. Would these classes be required or would they be an elective? What about the teenagers….the ones who are nearing adult hood? They need a program that will assist them with college applications, the steps to apply for loans, and the preparation for beginning college. And for the ones who feel college isn’t right for them, are there going to be programs for job skill training? Seeing that this town has a lack of job opprotunities have there been any ideas on finding jobs that are available outside of town? Maybe externships? There are alot of issues revolving around the city itself, but seeing that you want to focus on the youth, where does that leave the town? If all the coming up young adults seek a life outside of the town who will be the ones trying to better it?

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  • Mario Strong, himself

    Thank you for such a great response. At no time, should a parent ever feel that the school is challenging their parenting skills. It is up to the administrators, teachers, coaches, etc. to work in tandem with the parents for the betterment of each student. This is very reflective of the addage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This is so very true. When opportunities are afforded for our children, we as parents should embrace them. As far as “etiquette”, I remarked earlier about speaking with the Superintendent on testing; I would like to introduce this idea into the curriculum as well. If this is not possible, I am certain there are churches and other youth-centered programs that will be more than willing to incorporate this training. For those students entering adult hood, we must further their exposure through education and/or job training whether here in town or outside, and further their progress into responsible adult hood.

    I spoke with two young people this afternoon about how they felt about Indianola and how they saw their future. One young man who is entering the 9th grade said he liked having classes with “those out of state teachers (Teach for America)”. And that, they had stories about things he could only see on TV. The other young man is to graduate next year. He wasn’t certain of his plans after school. College was not on his mind just yet, but he stressed that he didn’t want to remain in Indianola. Young people in the Mississippi Delta are very much aware of their plight, and want if not need greater opportunity.

    To address your final question; it may seem that these young adults will often leave to never return. Sometimes you have to leave just to see what’s on the outside in order to make a change on the inside. Historically, the most educated and skilled grads have left Indianola. My parents did the same in the 70’s. Having been away, myself, I returned with a renewed sense of community and pride which was fostered through education and exposure. In fact, several of my colleagues had left town and then returned years later. These same individuals are now business owners as well.

    As a future leader in the community, I am rallying those who have left Indianola to reflect and revisit. There is much to do and I can’t do it alone. In order to draw outside interest, there must be others of like mind who are willing to assist me in creating a new Indianola. Once pride is renewed within the youth, our elders will note how those under 30 are becoming positive citizens. Then we all can speak highly of our hometown and convince outside industry that Indianola is the place to establish business, recruit labor, and promote.

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