“A lot of people will think ‘You were my social worker!’ I think I was your teacher, your friend, kind of like...everything,” Adra Young said.
Young, a native of Gary, has helped youth across America with various issues regarding behavior and interaction in the school setting. After graduating from Roosevelt High School in Gary, Young received her Bachelor's Degree in Education at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio and then her Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the University of Detroit, Michigan.
Her hard work and dedication in the years that followed landed her in various roles during her life as an acting coach, actress, and most prominently, an educator.
Young dedicated over twelve years of service as a teacher to the youth of Detroit, Michigan and worked with several schools there, such as the Ronald Brown Academy and Marcus Garvey Academy. In 2006, Young created Ardannyl, the after school performing arts company in Gary that provides acting, singing, and dance to youth five days a week.
She recalls her passion for education started at a very young age and recollected the times when she’d talk to her imaginary friends and stuffed animals about her math problems and spelling words.
“Teaching has always been in my heart,” Young said. “My first teaching experience took place in Detroit. I want to say my 7th year in is when I really started to notice a pattern of behavioral issues occurring with youngsters.”
She expressed that high numbers of suspensions were taking place due to behavior issues and when those children would come back to the classroom the same issues would eventually repeat themselves. Young decided she wanted to take matters into her own hands and reflect on what the system was currently implementing for troubled students in order to discover a solution.
“Unfortunately the only alternate route that would be applied when a student acted out was suspending them,” Young said and suggested, “Instead of pointing the finger, it was about looking in the mirror.”
Young said that the volcano that erupts within a child, though it may erupt on school premises, may be fueled by out of school issues. She encourages fellow educators to ask themselves before suspending a student, what could be going on with that student prior to him or her acting out?
“It started with me selecting several students that had high records of suspension and creating a group. We began to dialogue the issues that were occurring prior to coming to school and as we talked the walls of trust were being built,” Young said.
Adra became a social skills provider at the Detroit Impact Center where they discussed social dynamics that occur in youth. Young discovered that many of these students were going through different hardships outside of school.
“These issues have hit these children at such a young age, but we still have to teach them to learn the appropriate way to deal with their problems,” Young said.
Her group would meet together twice a week for two hours with two separate age groups. She suggested ways to deal with those issues immediately, with meditation being one of them.
“We would start off with meditation because it can take you to a place of promise. We would do it on a routine basis, and it soon became the way we would start our sessions,” Young said. “We created an environment of calm, where normally it wouldn't be.”
Almost every situation Young addressed within the group has been published in her books that refer to situations of the multifaceted issues that kids of today’s generation are faced with.
“The Everyday Living of Children and Teens Monologue” Volumes I & II are real life situations of what kids come in contact with prior to coming to school and are both available on Amazon.
“Kids relate to each other, so we would gather and unify to come up with real life solutions. Everyone plays a part of their healing process,” Young said.
Young’s books have created a curriculum for her as she continues to teach and discover solutions for the youth. She continues to be an ambassador by spreading the word and has travelled all over the U.S. sharing her knowledge. This October, Indiana University Northwest has invited her to speak.
“Being a native of Indiana, I am thrilled to be talking at Indiana University Northwest in October. It’s my home and I am so eager to get back!”
On October 18th, Young will be presenting the discussion “How to Reduce School Suspension with Students of Color” where she addresses the all time high suspension rates for students of color, the reasoning behind it, and strategies to help reduce the increasing issue.
The discussion is free of charge, but a reservation is required by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.