The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

He Uses Changed Life To Help Change Others

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher

The popular 2007 movie "Freedom Writers" came to life last week at West Central when "Manny Scott", an actual character in the gang-filled classroom, came to talk to students, teachers, parents, and others, thanks to Regional Supt. Jodi Scott.

Manning, related to kids in their troubled times, and explained to teachers why and how kids can get off-track while explaining ways that can turn kids around.

He talked about his absent father being a life-long prisoner, his mother on crack, and his stepfather's violent treatment of he and his mother.

Manning wore cardboard inside his shoes to keep his socks from hanging out, and then wore soccer shoes because they were cheap, and the kids made fun of him.

At 14, his best friend committed suicide and he dropped out of school and was considering doing the same thing, when a man approched him on a bench and had a long talk with him. "It's about choices, he said. "You can go back to school and make something of yourself, and be the father to your children that you never had."

So he went back to school. Then a young naive teacher (so the students thought) came into the classroom of gang members and fooled most of the staff in the teachers lounge by changing lives they didn't think was possible.

Manning is proof, one of 150 Freedom Writers, who became an All State in Football, attended Berkley and got his degree, went on to get his law degree, working in the firm of Donald Trump's father in California.

It wasn't him, he said, so he went to Seminary in Chicago and was ordained and became an Associate Pastor at Trinity. He obtained his Master's Degree and is now going for his Doctorate.

Last year he spoke to over 300,000 students and feels that is his calling for now.

If he can encourage one life to dream again, and make a change, his day is a great one.

He encourages teachers to be aware of their students. His fifth grade teacher invited him for ice cream at a fancy ice cream shop. It got him through the next few weeks.

In front of the student body, he asked students some pretty personal questions of how tough it was for them.

Believe in yourself. It's about choices.

Manuel Scott, visits with Steve Haynes and children after speaking at West Central last week.