“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.”
To be a part of the We Are All Educators Organization, in any capacity, is to be a part of an experience: birthed as a vision in the heart of a willing vessel, Darrell Holloman. As its proud Founder and Creator, Holloman sets a standard of excellence for his students, colleagues, friends and neighbors. He is continuing to make dynamic strides in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area while actively serving his community with a spirit of humility. Holloman stated that “We Are All Educators started off as the theme and motto of all of my classes. In order to get the students engaged, I let them know on day one, that the class is not just about me, it is about them as well. They are also the teachers. They are also the educators. As well as they come prepared is a reflection on how smoothly the class will run.” Holloman instills in each one of his students that they have something special to offer the world and no matter who they meet along the way, they have an opportunity to learn from them. The idea for We Are All Educators , a career mentorship organization, was birthed in his spirit in 2006, while having a “debate between himself and other Peace Corps volunteers about what’s missing in education.” Holloman’s focus even then, was to shed light on creating programs, partnerships and opportunities for career mentorship and real-life exposure for the purpose of education. He said, “it’s been put upon my heart and my spirit to fill that gap in whatever way I can.” It was that commission and his passion for bettering the experience of education that brought the community together for the We Are All Educators Garden Gala on a beautiful sunny afternoon on Sunday, August 4, 2019 in the District at Fathom Gallery. The Gala served as a fundraising event and the purpose was to celebrate the accomplishments of the organization thus far, and to charge event participants to get more connected with the vision through the offering of one’s time, resources and funds.
The organization’s board is a passionate group of men and women who are working and operating in the gifts that God has given them. Collectively, they are using their knowledge to perform a greater work in the community that this organization serves. Board member Dr. Robert Wingfield stated, “I know that the WAAE has a presence in D.C. because of Darrell’s ties to high schools like Eastern High School and D.C. in general. Many students may be first generation college bound and I believe WAAE occupies a space where they can get information about what college is going to be like and aid students in choosing the right major, field, and explore their interests early enough so that they are prepared and go to college with more of a plan.” For Dr. Wingfield, it was important for him to be a part of the WAAE board because he connected with the “sense of urgency” that Holloman had about getting the organization off of the ground. He said, “I knew that under the leadership of Darrell, the program had the potential to be successful. I saw my role as helping out with the when, making it come to fruition sooner rather than later and God allotted me the time to be able to do that in its formative stage.”
The WAAE Garden Gala also served as a networking opportunity for the current interns and alumni of the program. They were the real stars of the afternoon. They dressed the part of young professionals: the men, dressed in suits, ties, and wingtips while the ladies were styled in vibrantly colored dresses and heels that reflected their personalities. Guests were greeted with firm handshakes and beautiful smiles and warmly invited into the event space. The students mixed and mingled so freely among the guests, sharing with them their dreams and aspirations. They genuinely seemed to be interested in the professionals who were present, whether they be educators or entrepreneurs. The event was very well organized and had a unique way of making the participants feel special. Just outside of the event space was a red carpet where guests were photographed by professional photographers, while inside, the media team captured priceless footage for real time social media content, and Simply Ari Media was present to speak with guests directly to help recreate the experience for those who were unable to attend.
It was important to capture the spirit of the afternoon through the eyes of Holloman’s students, because they are truly the heart of the organization. Mila De Souza, an alumna of The WAAE, stated that she wanted to be a part of the program because, “Mr. Holloman focuses so much on helping other people and I was especially drawn to the fact that we would be able to be partnered with a mentor who would be able to help us throughout our lives and really show us the “WAAE.” De Souza also mentioned that what she appreciated most about the We Are All Educators Organization was that the program took the pressure off of its students who hadn’t yet figured out what they wanted to do, and encouraged them to explore their interests along the way; reassuring them that they would have the support they needed throughout their journey of discovery.
Akilah Johnson and Deverrick McAllister both alumni of the WAAE, said they have been a part of We Are All Educators for approximately two to three years respectively. Holloman recruited Johnson, who was the Google Doodle contest winner in 2016. She became more involved with the organization because of his genuine support of her talent. She said, “What made me want to be apart of the WAAE and really love it was Mr. Holloman’s consistency. It was nice to have someone who was always there.” McAllister was drawn to the program because he witnessed how Mr. Holloman impacted his friends, “who were interns of the WAAE since the program was started.” This summer, he served as an intern and worked directly with Holloman and is currently using him as a resource to develop his own non-profit organization.
The Garden Gala was graced by the musical styling of Terrence Cunningham, former contestant of NBC’s The Voice. Cunningham is familiar with the impact that education can have on young minds, as he was a music teacher at his alma mater, Friendly High School. To him, “we are all educators” means, “leading the way.” He stated, “To teach is to lead, to lead by example; it is to nurture, to practice patience, compassion, and tolerance. These are also all of things that make a good parent; because in a way, when you are teaching you are parenting. I think if more teachers viewed it that way, and watched what they said and how they conducted themselves they would become more aware that that is going to be the model of these young malleable minds.”
He mentioned that it meant a great deal to him to be a part of the event, because, “We are all someone’s example. Everyone is a culmination of their life’s experience. If I can be so privileged in any way to show that with time, dedication and practice, you can achieve anything [which goes back to what I experienced with my own parents, who were so keen on nurturing and cultivating what I was able to do], if I can similarly be that mirror for the young people involved in the WAAE, then I think I am doing the right thing.”
The We Are All Educators Organization provides unique opportunities for its students to be exposed to different fields. Over the past two years, Holloman has taken his pupils to meet 93.9 WKYS, radio personality, Angie Ange, sit down and converse with Senator Bernie Sanders, visit the United Negro College Fund headquarters, along with many other exciting excursions. It is clear that God’s favor and Holloman’s network is propelling the mission of this organization forward. For the kids especially, these are moments that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Opportunities as special as these encourage the heart of the students to dream bigger!
The We Are All Educators mission beautifully echoes Romans 12: 6-8, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
It encourages us to celebrate our differences and come together collectively, every joint supplying, to make a positive impact in the world. In doing so we are set on the path“WAAE” to the purpose and destiny that God has prepared for us.
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