Celebrating the Teachers and Coaches who Help Learners “Get it”
My high school basketball coach at W. H. Taft High School in the Bronx, Mr. Donald E. Adams, was a teacher, coach, mentor; who went beyond teaching physical education at many levels within the New York City Public School system, and helped so many kids (including me) dream beyond all the difficulty and socio-economic challenges in our neighborhoods. He helped us realize that graduating high school was just the start — if we were willing to work really hard and respond to the investments teachers and coaches were willing to make in us.
Don Adams made so many investments, and whether in the classroom or on the court, his willingness to sacrifice his personal and family time, to organize afterschool and summer program activities, was instrumental in not just helping me, but literally many thousands of kids. There are some far better known teachers and coaches, like the well-deserved fame and lessons of UCLA’s John Wooden; but some of the things Coach Adams taught me still echo in my life decades later.
Reflecting back, I should not be surprised about the approaches he used, as he served in the U.S. Army and earned an a master’s degree himself — from which he learned what he tried to teach me: the importance of critical thinking, developing systematic discipline, how it takes hundreds of hours to be good at something and thousands for mastery, how you “win the games and pass the tests, in practice“, etc.
As it often is with so many important things we learn from parents, grandparents, teachers, and coaches, the most powerful insights and lessons often sink-in much later in life. Great teaching has a way of echoing, and increasing in value, as you mature and your life unfolds.
When I think back about coach Adams helping me, it takes me back many years, and sort of feels like how when you learn a new skill or a challenging concept in math class — I want to proudly tap my hands on the desk and say, “got it!”
Because of this, I think I value even more deeply how Pearson’s mission is centered on helping to make the “science, art, and profession of teaching” better. So during this national teachers’ appreciation week, I celebrate the wonderful and committed teachers and coaches who help learners “get-it.”
About Alfred Binford, M.B.A.
Joining Pearson in late 2014 as Managing Director of Assessment & Direct Delivery in North America, Alfred now leads Pearson’s sales and business development activities for State and National Services, Clinical Assessment, and Connections Learning. He is focused on further developing Pearson’s comprehensive portfolio of assessments that help administrators, teachers, students, and parents improve education outcomes.
Alfred has over 25 years of experience in the technology and telecommunications industries and has led large teams across the U.S. and around the world. Most recently, Alfred served as CEO of Mycom North America. Before Mycom, he held senior leadership positions with Vodafone, Amdocs, and Unisys, where his work included driving business development and delivering on large K-20 contracts such as The California State University system, Chicago Public Schools, and Detroit Public Schools.