Silsbee I.S.D.

Who knew that one of our most memorable speaking engagements would also end up being one of our absolute favorite stories, full stop. And when it comes to Red & Black, all we are … are stories, so that's saying something. But there was no way to know any of that as we set out to do a speaking engagement for high school students. And to this day, we can't decide which part of the story is our favorite … how we got there or what happened once we arrived.

Well, we were off to Silsbee High School in, where else, Silsbee, Texas. Which is about a two-hour drive from Houston and about 25 miles north of Beaumont, which was the closest city we could find to stay overnight as we were due at the school first thing in the morning for a full day (starting with a presentation to the entire senior class, and then one for the students that had used our book as the personal finance textbook in their Economics course).

STORY #1

So, off we go bright and early with me and my paper driving directions, as I'm old school and like to have everything ready in advance, plus I'm not a huge fan of technology. On the other hand, Black's busy on her iPad as we set forth on our latest student adventure. The road to Silsbee (sounds like a country western song) starts withthree lanes, quickly drops to two lanes, and before I know it, I can see that it's about to go to one lane, with no signs indicating exits. And my paper directions are now useless! I turn to Black and ask her (well, really, tell her in my "panic") to see if she can find out where we are on her iPad and how to get to Silsbee, and ideally, Silsbee High School. All I can see is ruralness (Is that a word? If not, it should be) all around me, all I'm missing are some cows crossing the road. And Black's reply?


We're off the iPad!

At that point, I'm literally driving down not quite a dirt road but close when what do I see in the "not too far" distance? A school bus! A beautiful, yellow, school bus and as I get closer (ok, I may have exceeded the speed limit slightly), I see "Silsbee I.S.D." on it. I can honestly say I've never been so happy to see a school bus and I turn to Black, with excitement and hope, telling her that I'm following that bus! Because let's face it, there can only be one high school in Silsbee and I can't imagine whichever school the bus is going to, the others won't be far away.

STORY #2

Fast forward, it's late morning and we're having an absolute blast as our earlier presentation to the senior class, which surprisingly are a few hundred students, was a big hit. (That's not ego talking, we're basing it on audience participation, comments from the students before they left, and feedback from the educators who organized the event.) Now the audience is less than 20 students, and not only were they in the earlier event, but they used our book as part of their Economics class "curricula" to study personal finance. We were only scheduled to have an hour with them, formatted as a Question & Answer session, but as we're about to wrap up they asked to give up their lunch period (can you believe that?!) to have more time with us.

And then a student raises their hand and very politely asks Black,

Can you explain how you're talking to us about money and making smart decisions, but you're wearing shoes with red soles that probably cost hundreds of dollars?

My immediate thought was, wow that student knows about Christian Louboutin shoes! Quickly followed by wondering how Black was going to get out of this one. So much so that I took a seat in the front row (which made everyone laugh). And, without missing a beat, she turned the astute question into an invaluable lesson about budgeting, cost-per-wearing calculations, and investment purchases. In other words, she navigated that question much easier than I navigated the road to Silsbee.

Photo by Walter Bibikow on Alamy

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Photograph of Jackie Aguilera courtesy of Jackie Aguilera


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

I have a confession to make, which I’m sure will make you roll your eyes.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

Interesting caveat and probably true.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Every time we meet with Jackie (Aguilera) from the Mayor’s Office of Adult Literacy and hear what she’s doing in the world of adult education, I feel like I’m back in school and having to take copious notes.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

I am more than happy to send you “homework assignments” as I come across relevant articles and research.


red headred head assets.rebelmouse.io

Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to taking notes. But that does explain why you’re so knowledgeable about literacy.


Black assets.rebelmouse.io

But, reading information is very different from being at the forefront of literacy innovation. And, if we had never met Jackie, I never would have realized how literacy is more than the dictionary definition, and encompasses more than just reading and writing.
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