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 Inspirational and thought-provoking messages informed by my faith, ministry in education and community development 

Dr. Flowers' Blog

Posts Tagged "WIDWID"

The Ultimate Credit Score

April 03, 2024
By Dr. Terry Flowers

In just two years, the ministry of St. Philip’s will celebrate 80 years of existence! The chronicle of our journey unfolds to two constant factors. From the time of its inception as a small Episcopal church, we have consistently remained responsive to the needs of the community surrounding us. Additionally, we’ve maintained the collaborative spirit of the small group of African-American Episcopalians, who forged relationships with other church members and organizations that sparked the “make away or find one” approach that continues to propel our success today.

We are blessed to be able to partner with entities who have spirits that agree. Those spirits nod affirmatively to the understanding that education is the elixir of the soul. They embrace the value of delivering services with dignity and possess the faithfulness to defy the odds by demonstrating the power of one.

The mighty title of St. Philip’s as a school, community center and neighborhood change agent, can only be explained by examining the legions of staff, volunteers, sacrificial parents, and partners, who all demonstrate the biblical encouragement of “to whom much is given”…….

Our ministry has long considered itself a king of collaboration. Our partnerships with over sixty organizations, who join forces with us to render services and promote change, is bringing about a transformation that is emerging as a national model. Our alumni are committed to serving the community and the world as their Creed compels them to. They are leading their own agencies and leveraging their professions to uplift communities across the country.

Our mighty impact is undeniable. However, collective resources, passions, and talents, do not adequately explain why St. Philip’s has been successful. All these factors have played a role, but the reality is, had we not given credit where credit is due, St. Philip’s would merely be a spec and not special. Join us in pronouncing the ultimate credit for our accomplishments thus far. To God be the glory, to God be the glory, to God be the glory! This is where credit must be placed.  As we continue impacting lives and uplifting community, let’s remain faithful that the same God, who got us to where we are today, has more than enough resources to get us where he wants us to go. Our best is yet to come!

Posted in WID-WID

You Belong In Every Story

February 28, 2024
By Dr. Terry Flowers

One lesson every school needs to learn revolves around not just the instructional expertise of their faculty but the quality of the content being taught. School curriculum is like the diet of nutrients we place into our bodies. Poor intake impacts how we perform physically, spiritually, and mentally. Likewise, students respond better to wholesome and relevant content in their learning.

Accordingly, we teach our students that they belong in every story. In essence, we are asking them to question how the materials and subject matter they are presented relates to themselves and their ancestors as they endeavor to dive into their learning. We have found that relevance becomes the nugget that nurtures a trail of curiosity to the mind.

Our 8th graders recently completed an academic excursion to Ghana, an experience that proved to be the highest manifestation of what the St. Philip’s Creed embodies. Students encountered a dramatic expression of the community and the world needing their contributions.

The experience was overwhelmingly a practice of living by put ups and not put downs for our sisters and brothers. Undeniably, they were able to witness the righteous need for success to be a right. Their being in service for school children of Ghana and engaging with the people of the country was a climactic opportunity for our students. It enabled them to wrestle with and combat bias, rumors, and stereotypes often portrayed and propagated about the continent. Their journey to the cradle of civilization was as rich as the fertile soils and wonderful souls of the continent of Alkebulan.

Ironically, the namesake of our School and Community Center is “Philip”, an evangelist of Christ who traveled the continent of Alkebulan. His teaching of the Gospel established the church in Ethiopia. Teaching, testifying, and serving, ties directly to the outcome we expect from our graduates as they move into their high school years. They are to use their education to explore new heights and take others with them, giving God the glory along the way.

YOU BELONG IN EVERY STORY is a lesson for every student and a common St. Philip's mantra.  Another mantra of ours is "A day without learning is a day wasted." We teach our students to not allow a word they don't know to get past them. Alkebulan is a word from our excursion to Ghana that I gift you with.


Posted in WID-WID

The Greatest Flaw of Urban Education Success

January 23, 2024
By Dr. Terry Flowers

Our society places a premium on the value of education and its capacity to uplift our children out of poverty into flourishing lives. This premium is appropriate. Next to God, an education is humanity's most critical pathway for a productive and sustainable future for humankind. In the words of St. Philip’s former trustee and dear friend, John Muse, “Education is the elixir of the soul.”

Without a doubt, high value should justifiably be placed on education. However, I believe a blaring caution is in order! A caution especially for urban educators and students. We must teach the value of education, yes, but our message needs to be, “Don’t allow your education to be a pathway of no return to the neighborhood you grew up in.”

We have had generations of urban youth who have navigated through urban school systems to go on to achieve exceptional accomplishments in every walk of business, science, the arts, and literary excellence. Unfortunately, urban schools and social constructs have created a quest to get out with a yearning to not return. The trend over multiple generations has not been one of turning success into significance within the community that produced people like me, a native of the southside of Chicago. 

Conversely, the pattern is one of forsaking the very communities which produced our success, the very shoulders that were stood upon to climb out of poverty. This climb to success has often been blurred by a vision of the American Dream. As one highly successful African American businessman put it, “Why should white guys have all the fun?” Our urban schools have produced legions of overcomers who have risen to prominent levels of power and influence. Despite the accomplishments of those who have defied the odds, our urban communities and now many suburban youth continue to struggle.

A clarion call is in order for a shift in the mission of academia. Ideally, that call would be for The Great Homecoming and a disruption of the mass exportation of the talents of our communities. The Great Homecoming would be evidenced by a return to live, serve, and invest back in the soils of origin. 

In the interim of this Great Homecoming, schools can take action. The Creed of St. Philip’s School and Community Center embodies the thrust of service, sacrifice and self-determination that results in community uplift. Here in Dallas, Jesuit College Preparatory School sends students across the metroplex to tutor and serve in our Aunt Bette’s Community Pantry. Jesuit tags its focus as “men for others”, a clear message for purpose and obligation to humanity.

As work continues to create “boutique” schools focused on career, entrepreneurship, leadership, and business, let’s address the flaw that has failed to compel our best talents to overwhelmingly return to uplift urban America. Our education should not become a pathway to no return.

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Here WE Go!

January 09, 2024
By Dr. Terry Flowers

Most who have followed the ministry of St. Philip’s will recognize one of our student mantras: simply put, our scholars will tell you we are a school where ‘It's okay to pray and make an A’. Similarly, Dallas Cowboys fans can identify with Dak Prescott, starting the offense signal call with his signature ‘Here WE go.’

There is a fair amount of discussion surrounding the use and the effectiveness of these three words as the guidepost to initiate the team's offensive attacks. Regardless of whether you have a favorite team, I offer these three words, ‘Here WE go’ as a gift to every believer as we move into 2024. 

I invite you to watch online as St. Philip's students give an automatic response when they hear ‘The Lord be with you.’ Their response in daily chapel and elsewhere is ‘and also with you!’ At the first chapel service back from winter break, the homily topic was ‘Here WE go!’ The homily had little to do with football or signal calling. The focus was on reminding the audience that for those who believe, God promises to never leave or forsake them. Our students were encouraged to take on the challenges of 2024 with confidence, knowing that they are not alone. In short, we encourage the students to say ‘Here WE go’ to God, meaning as difficult times unfold, we are saying ‘Here WE go, God, let's tackle this together.’ (Note that ‘WE’ is capitalized to acknowledge The Almighty being present.)

As 2024 begins, join me in constantly saying to GOD… ‘Here WE go’, whatever may come, knowing that with HIM our best is yet to come. And for those who are more seasoned in their faith and know how to press life's rewind, you are entitled to say… ‘Lord, Here WE go again.’

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It's a BOY thing!

August 23, 2023
By Dr. Terry Flowers

In education an often-unappreciated energy that surpasses the excitement of the super bowl emerges annually.... it is called B.O.Y.  Nothing rivals the amount of preparation, attention, money spent, enthusiasm, and even increased traffic surrounding B.O.Y. The Beginning Of Year exhilaration gives me fuel annually. New outfits, fresh supplies, hairstyles, backpacks, and lunch kits are contributors but not my B.O.Y. highlights.  Anticipations of reuniting with classmates and meeting new friends and teachers add to the excitement as well. The passion of faculty who are driven by the St. Philip's principle that "educating a child is not a rehearsal" brings me a rush. B.O.Y. at St. Philip's also allows me to see the intense hopefulness of parents who distinguish themselves. Most parents are willing to give on behalf of their children. Our parents, however, are not only willing to give on behalf of their children they are willing to GIVE UP something. They forego vacations, vehicles, and vanities in order to pay tuition. This commitment is not a dog whistle of their seriousness about the importance of education, it sends a foghorn of emphasis to our students about the value of academic achievement. This message doesn't trickle into the spirits of our scholars, it flows like mighty rivers. It's a B.O.Y. thing and I am excited about it.  Let's thrive together this B.O.Y. 2023-24 as we work to Build Our Youth.

Posted in WID-WID

Life Gets to Vote

August 02, 2023

As we move closer to kicking off a new school year, I am humbled to reflect on the blessing St. Philip’s extends to our students. We get to celebrate the Privilege to Pray, Praise and Proclaim God’s Powerful Prevalence.

With our world becoming increasingly divided and determined to depart from core values that promote human flourishing, we strive to teach a lesson that escapes many adults. That lesson is “LIFE GETS TO VOTE!” The architect of our current strategic plan, John Kiser, used this quote in reminding a committee that circumstances and unforeseen factors have a way of disrupting the best of plans. 

It’s been said that we make plans and God laughs at us. Just as Life gets to vote, it is also important for our children to know that satan always has a campaign. Since God was uninvited to our schools in 1963, we now have generations lacking a compass to navigate the constant campaign to contaminate, corrupt and condemn our youth.  

Dealing with the occasions when Life casts votes that upend the best of your dreams, intentions and efforts is fruitless without faith. As St. Philip’s adds a long-awaited 8th grade class, we are humbled to assure our students with the understanding that they can take comfort the vote is rigged in every campaign favoring HIS believers. I claim dignity and prosperity. My God promises both.”

Thanks be to GOD for HIS goodness and the worth of his word, as well as HIS will and HIS way.

Posted in WID-WID

Custody Battles

July 06, 2023
By Dr. Terry Flowers

As we move deeper into this summer my encouragement for all parents is to be on guard for Unplanned Parenthood which besieges our children. This battle employs stealth and self weaponry that adversely impact our children. Just as the advisory is for us to make sure that our weapons are locked away from our children in our households, cautionary measures surrounding technology are in order. Children’s screen time during the summer increases by forty three percent! The screen requires your teen in order for it to survive.

The recommendation for children under two years of age is to have a less than 30 minutes a day of productive, positive screen time, if any. For those over to two years old the healthy recommendation is no more than one hour per day. Research reveals that during the school year, children’s screen time in America averages 7.5 hours a day. The greatest casualty of this undercover custody battle is the reality that excessive screen time is associated with lower math scores, increased obesity and social-emotional declines.

This custody battle never receives its day in court.  There is no jury of peers, but the casualties result in parental tears. Our children’s opportunities to enjoy the blue sky are being robbed by the blue screen. Their mental wellness is being victimized by social media’s “hellness".  With this battle there is no court of appeal, but impact can result in slow to no heal. Tragically, justice falls upon the parents' personal will which often struggles to model what's proven to be unfit.

When Scripture and fables lose the battle to Instagram and Snap Chat at the dinner table, we take on more casualty in the battle to maintain custody. The loss of custody is never intentional. It is unplanned parenting with potential casualty. Let’s face it. The screen’s potential impact is formidable therefore we must be intentional as custodial stewards of our children’s battles to flourish and thrive. This intention INCLUDES attention to our own screen time modeling. Custody battles start with the custodians.

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Blame Throwers

June 06, 2023
By Dr. Terry Flowers

Forrest Hoglund and I have held a long-term debate over what are the most powerful words for humankind. Anyone familiar with St. Philip’s is aware of one of our key mantras, “If it is to be, it is up to me (ten words).” Prominent businessman and philanthropist, Forrest Hoglund, uses 9 words, If it is to be, it’s up to me. As our friend Forrest approaches his 90th birthday, July 1st 2023, I have a compromise. Whether you use eight, nine, or ten words to get the message across, Forrest would agree that St. Philip’s is simply working to avoid producing “blame throwers.”

Accountability, responsibility, and overcoming obstacles are the order of instruction and experiences in the embattled neighborhood surrounding us. Defiance of the odds and building upon legacies of sacrifices that have paved the way for our current existence. Every Summer for the past 21 years, researchers have published studies about the devastating impact of Summer learning loss. These studies document academic drop-offs are attributable to children being away from school during the Summer. While absence from school is a key factor, parents must dodge becoming Blame Throwers.

“A day without learning is a day wasted.” This is another mantra of St. Philip’s. Thus, every parent is responsible for leveraging time and resources during the Summer to build upon what their children accomplished during the school year. Camps like the one St. Philip’s operates each Summer, along with museums, libraries, churches, and community resources are there to support your “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”

“Parenting can vary but should never vacation.” Don’t become a blame-thrower. Blame never extinguished a fire, paid a bill, or solved a problem. Blame fuels dysfunction everywhere, including in politics and pulpits. Action ignites change. Therefore, in honor of his nine decades of life, I will agree with our dear Kansas University bleeding friend, Forrest Hogland, on the nine most powerful words for humanity under one condition… The condition that “if it is to be, it’s up to me” is only applicable to the power of God within us.

Posted in WID-WID

Anchors From Bankers

April 27, 2023
By Dr. Terry Flowers

I was recently blessed to be in the presence of four of our nation’s most civically rooted bankers, Elaine Afather, Pete Chillian, Michelle Thomas, and now retired Todd Maclin. These four heavyweights of banking now hold generational depths of experience in working toward community uplift.

Anyone close to St. Philip’s would recognize our belief that “a day without learning is a day wasted.” I received a “knowledge nugget” authored by Todd Maclin when he gave his mentee, Pete Chillian, the greatest professional advice he has ever received. Todd told Pete to remember, “your ego is not your amigo.”

Todd’s Texas flair will resonate in our upcoming chapel service. Our students have already been taught that E.G.O. stands for Edging. God. Out. Thus, “your ego is not your amigo” can not only serve as professional advice, but it can also provide instructional guidance to help children make sense (or cents) of the nonsense of the challenges our country is afflicted with. We can all benefit from Proverbs chapter, 3 verses 5 and 6. We must make sure our e.g.o. does not become our amigo who edges God out. This speaks to our nation’s divide and ethical descent.

An analysis of the amigo ego friendship analogy causes me to reflect to 20 years ago. One of our three-year-old students confided in me that she needed anger management classes. She knew that was the reason she took her classmates’ snacks! Just as this 36-month-old had internalized the adult verbiage and constructs of her surrounding, so it is today with the swarm of overdue and much-needed concentration on social-emotional learning.

Caution is appropriate to make sure our focal confluence does not lead to unwarranted influence wrought with ego-amigo vulnerabilities. Philippians chapter 2, verses 5 – 11. Let’s keep our children lifted in prayer as we help them navigate the entanglements of our society by Encouraging God Often.

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