DeMaurice Smith Talks about Education

Robert Folk | 11/5/2009, 12:36 a.m.

Attorney DeMaurice Smith, new executive director of the NFL Players Association, addressed a group of teachers, administrators and funders for Howard Road Academy€s 3rd Annual Black Tie Gala on Sat., Oct. 17.

Smith, an Anacostia native, talked about his new position with the NFL, the challenge of growing up in the D.C. metropolitan area and his appreciation for the work teachers do to create leaders of the future.

€I hit my 88th plane flight in six months. I almost hit every team [in the league],€ Smith said. €Since being elected executive director, home has been one place where I have not been.€

In his speech, Smith spoke about Howard Road Academy, located in Anacostia in Southeast, and the importance of parents and teachers have in shaping the lives of children. €This school, in this community is truly an agent for change. [I am] one that is fortunate enough to have a great job and to do things that I thought I could never do in my life. Teachers really change people€s lives every day.€

Smith also recalled his past and how the teachers were part of his community.
€When school went well, it was something that my parents knew because she [my kindergarten teacher] was a member of my community. She was a friend of my family. She was someone that I saw not only everyday but I saw her every Sunday, because she was a member of my church,€ Smith said.

As a gesture of his appreciation, he recently attended a retirement celebration for his teachers and presented them with a helmet signed by the members of the NFL Players association. He said his fondest memories were of the times when those teachers spent time with him to mold his young mind and to help him develop.

€For the [students] that you feel each and every day that perhaps they€re not giving their best, talk back. I know that student. I was that student,€ Smith said.

He said he felt the patience and love shown by his teachers opened his eyes to a better future, and remembered the teacher that helped him as he spent his vacation in summer school.

€She gave me the ability to love books. There isn€t a day when I think how long that summer was in a hot classroom€she pulled me aside and said you can do one of two things, you can sit in this room and do nothing or I can take you down to the library and you can find everything,€ Smith said.

€Education in America will remain the greatest equalizer on the face of the planet,€ Smith said. He reminded the crowd that children in urban communities have great potential.
€When you [see] someone fighting for the collective bargaining agreement [for NFL player contracts and owners of NFL teams] know that it was someone from Anacostia who had some teacher to put his arm around you and let you know that you can be just as good and just as smart as anyone else,€ Smith said.

€There is nothing that they cannot accomplish.€