Project Re-Direct Helps Newark's Youth Academically and Socially
As a part of our "Newark at a Crossroads" series, taped at NJIT, Sharon Berry, Founder and President of Project Re-Direct Youth and Family Services, discusses her how her organization is improving the academic and social skills of Newark's youth.
"We are pleased to be joined by Sharon Berry, founder and president of Project Re-Direct Youth and Family Services. How you doing? I'm doing fine. How are you doing, sir? I'm doing great. Tell us what Project Re-Direct is. Well, Project Re-Direct is an organization that I founded 20 years ago. We just celebrated our 20th year. Congratulations. Thank you so much. And it's an organization that works to give young people the right to, as a supplemental education program, and we do academics, we do, we have a healthy minds healthy bodies initiative. Hmm. Where we teach, of course, to improve emotional intelligence. We do all kinds of preventative areas for bullying, improving self esteem, self awareness, and child abuse prevention. And we have supervised recreation, we have a parent initiative as well, we do a school to work initiative for young people. In the Fall, we have, excuse me, in the Spring we have indirect services, where we do what's called Campaign For April. It's National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so we are advocates of children more than educators, more than people who are just in the classroom, we advocate for children and their situations. So you spent a few years as an educator, as a professional educator, public school teacher before this, right? Yes, yes. Why did you go into teaching? Well I went into teaching very early, well to be honest with you, I went into teaching cause my daddy told me to be a teacher. [laughter] I will be very honest, my father said, "well you know your Aunt Martha's a teacher and your Aunt Wanita's a teacher, and I want you to be a teacher." So I was raised with the notion of going to college, and being a teacher. Twenty seven years you stayed? Yeah, I loved it. What did you love about it? I loved it, I love, first of all I love the subject matter that I was teaching, I love English, and all the various facets of English, I love working with the young people. I love watching them grow, watching them develop. I love just being involved with them in many different situations, in school and out of school, and I love working with the parents. What did you see a lot of the young men and women facing as a teacher that caused you to decide to start this organization? That's a good question, and in order to understand that, I would have to go back to my childhood. Hmm. Go back to my rots, go back to Brooklyn, New York, go back to Bed-Stuyvesant. Going back to many things I saw coming up as a young person..."