Educate Local: Building Skills with BCS Seniors

On Friday, October 13, seniors from all seven high schools in Birmingham City Schools met at the Harbert Center for the skill-building conference on public speaking. Participating students had worked with volunteer presenters, Ed staff, and their teachers to produce personal commentaries, which they wrote, practiced, and perfected through in-school sessions, before giving presentations to volunteers from Rotary Club of Birmingham.

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Educator Spotlight: Erik Batson, Academy Coordinator, Jackson-Olin High School

Despite the impressive list of places where he has taught—from the Bronx, to Austin, Texas, to the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina—you’d be hard-pressed to
find a teacher anywhere that has as much enthusiasm for their system as Erik Batson has for Birmingham City Schools.

Sitting at a table at Starbucks in Five Points South, wearing cycling clothes complete with a “Brooklyn”-emblazoned cycling cap, he professed, “I love my job. I love working for Jackson-Olin, and I love working for Birmingham City Schools—much better than other places I have been.” Continue reading

10/9/15: Career Development Conference on Networking

Last Friday, we hosted our first Career Development Conference on the new school year with our partners at Birmingham Rotary and Rotaract Clubs. Students sat through several conversations about dinner etiquette, elevator pitches, and coffee conversations; experience several rounds of speed-networking; and each got a professional headshot from volunteer photographer Jonathan Purvis! Check out photos below to see how the day unfolded. Continue reading

Let’s Get Ready to Network!

There is no better indicator of the extent to which Ed has grown over the past couple years than the Career Development Conference. Through a robust partnership with the Rotary Club of Birmingham, what originally began as a one-day mock-interview event has grown into a five-year, multi-part curriculum on skills like entrepreneurship, interviewing, public speaking, and, now, networking. This Friday, we will host our first Career Development Conference of the 2015-2016 school year at The Club for over 300 10th-grade students in Birmingham City Schools. To help us put on a great show, we’ve enlisted the help of some of the regions’ most interesting professionals. Check out the line-up below. Continue reading

Student Voice: Theodore Tyson and “A Huffman Child’s Vision”


Build Day at Huffman High School

On a Wednesday in April, we are working in the shop at Huffman High School, painting scrap pieces of wood and metal and fashioning together a makeshift set of stairs.

In that moment, soon-to-be graduate Theodore Tyson turns to me and says, “Is this all because of my idea?”

“Sure is,” I said.

“That’s awesome,” he said. “That’s really, really cool.”

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Partnership Feature: Yawntreshia Coleman, Managing Director, Coleman & Company, LLC

Super-volunteer and jack-of-all-trades, Yawntreshia Coleman.

Super-volunteer and jack-of-all-trades, Yawntreshia Coleman.

Yawntreshia Coleman is the kind of volunteer that you all dream about.

I could use a whole slew of GRE words and resume adjectives to describe her – reliable, consistent, punctual, effervescent – and they would all be true. But at the end of a school year during which we have engaged over 400 individual volunteers in our work, the thing that has meant the most to us is that Tresh is always hungry for more. Continue reading

Partnership Feature: Birmingham Rotary Club


Group tables gave students the opportunity to get feedback from Rotary mentors and their peers on pitching a presentation topic.

If you ever start to doubt the magnitude of the investment that the Birmingham community has placed in the success of our students, let me borrow an hour of your time and introduce you to Sanjay Singh, President of the Birmingham Rotary Club.

“Our members look forward to the Career Development Conference each semester,” says Singh. “Sitting across from these students, what stands out the most is their potential, their ambition, and their genuine desire to be change-makers in their community. It is an honor and a privilege to work one-on-one with Birmingham’s youth, supporting them as they prepare for their futures.” Continue reading

Interview experts? Yep, we have them!

When it comes to preparing our students for life after high school, we’ve come to realize that the Birmingham community is fertile ground.

This Friday, a diverse group of professionals and entrepreneurs will deliver high-quality professional development to juniors in the Academies of Birmingham as part of our third (!) Career Development Conference with the Birmingham Rotary Club.  But don’t just take our word for it; check out the bios below to learn more about the talented individuals who will be going us. 

Tate HeadshotMelva Tate
, Tate and Associates: “Wow Me or Walk! Effective Interviewing Skills that Rock!”

Melva Tate, PHR, is a motivational speaker, radio co-host, serial entrepreneur, and networking “Diva,” affectionately known as The Career Coach; as well as a feature writer/contributor to leading newspapers and magazines including, HR Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, and the Birmingham Business Journal; Adjunct Consultant for Career Partners International; and Certified Life Coach (CLC).. She is the principal of Tate & Associates, managing sister companies Strategic HR Partnerships and Strategic Career Advantage. Her firm offers specialized services in executive selection, human resource consulting, workforce development, training, and career coaching. As a recognized leader with 20+ years of solid industry experience, Melva has established creative ways to infuse her enthusiasm for the field of HR and career development with a proven track record of strategically taking organizations and careers to the next level.JL Team Red 2015

Melva will be joined at the conference by her co-host of The Joe Lockett Show – Joe Lockett and Comedienne JOY. By day, Lockett is the owner of HG2, which does home repairs that your husband or boyfriend won’t. JOY – the Queen of Clean – brings the funny to churches and corporate functions around the southeast. You can catch her a few times a year at The Stardome Comedy Club. The Joe Lockett Show is a highly rated battle of the sexes radio show that hit the airwaves and thrilled their WYLD 101.1 listeners.

10590413_10104923605956070_8391831982437655680_nMickey Millsap, Youth Entrepreneur Labs: “Getting in the Door: Resumes That Will Get You the Interview.”

Mickey is the executive director of Youth Entrepreneur Labs. Mickey started YEL after serving two years as a Teach For America Corps Member where he taught high school physics and chemistry in Sumter County, Alabama. Prior to joining Teach for America, Mickey was a co-founder and director at Mickey started uShip with two classmates while earning his MBA (Class of ’04) at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Mickey started his career as a corporate banking analyst with Bank of America. After two years, he left Bank of America and served on the political staff of Senator Tom Daschle. During business school, Mickey served as a business-planning consultant for the National Parks Service. Mickey also serves as an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at The Collat School of Business at UAB. Mickey holds an undergraduate degree in Finance from Florida State University.

575693_4800235811041_2040283526_n_FotorMickey will be joined in his presentation by Andrew Mitchell, Director of Data and Communications at A+ College Ready, an education nonprofit that works to increase college readiness throughout Alabama. After growing up in South Africa, Andrew returned to Alabama for high school and earned his Bachelor’s of Arts with Honors from the University of Alabama. Prior to working for A+ College Ready, Andrew taught high school physics and chemistry for three years in Greenville, Alabama as a Teach For America corps member where he was named 2013-2014 Greenville High School Teacher of the Year. Andrew was the lead researcher in the inaugural Alabama Education at a Glance publication, and he currently serves as a Board Member for Greater Birmingham Ministries.

Anthony_2 Anthony Oliver, Breakthrough Birmingham: keynote speaker

Anthony Oliver joined Breakthrough Collaborative as flagship Director of Breakthrough Birmingham in the summer of 2013. A Birmingham native, Anthony comes to Breakthrough with seven years of experience in education, as a high-school mathematics teacher at Tarrant High School and Vestavia Hills High School; principal intern at Newton North High School, where he worked to create access to challenging academic curriculum for African-American students and students from low socioeconomic classes; and co-director of the Dover Legacy Scholars, a mentoring program designed to promote high academic achievement among students of African descent. Anthony received his Master’s of Education in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and also holds a B.A. in Mathematics from the Virginia Military Institute and a M.A.E. in Secondary Education-Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

6116dc1c-0229-4c3c-b2a3-dbdbcc0caca2Anthony HoodUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham, & Rickey Jay White, Uncommon. Creative: “The Time is Now: Professional Branding for Students”
Dr. Anthony C. Hood is an Assistant Professor in the UAB Collat School of Business. Dr. Hood’s research, teaching and outreach are informed by 15+ years of practical business experience in roles such as network sales engineer, systems designer, and insurance sales representative for companies such as AT&T, Regions Bank, and American General. In addition to his corporate experience, he has owned and operated entrepreneurial ventures for the past 15 years. Dr. Hood holds a B.S. in Human Resource Management and a Master’s in Business Administration from UAB. He completed his PhD in Management with concentrations in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the University of Alabama. He is a life-long resident of the City of Birmingham and is a proud graduate of Ramsay High School.


Rickey Jay White, Jr. is a seasoned results-driven professional with over 10+ years of diverse business experience across a wide spectrum of digital marketing, branding, and social media with a solid grounding in operational leadership and project management best practices. Eight years ago, Rickey left comfort and safety to strikeout and be more than just normal. “In order to move forward,” Rickey says, “I had to do what I feared in order to reach my goals.” During his tenure as a serial entrepreneur, Rickey has been a part of over 15 start-ups across the East Coast and has “rewritten the rules that outline my success.  And now those fears no longer control me.”