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The Mississippi Reading Association is being hosted at the Beau Rivage this week. Hundreds of teachers from across the Coast have come together to learn new teaching skills and hear from the top educators.
DJ Batiste says he owes his life to his former teacher Donna Porter. “There is no doubt in my mind I would either be in jail or hell.”
Seven years ago, he walked into her Picayune High School classroom a gang leader, but left a well behaved and respected student. “He was somewhat disrespectful to me. I had never seen this young man and here it was the honeymoon day. I really knew it was important for me to make an impression with him on that day. Despite his disrespect, I began to focus on his gifts and his gifts are his charisma and his smile,” said Porter.
From that day on, Batiste became the class greeter. Standing at the door to welcome each classmate with a high five, hug, or handshake gave DJ a sense of worth and ultimately transformed his life. “Always connect. Remember, cooperation follows connection and luckily I had a teacher that was interested in connecting with me. Always remember what makes our story. If you are waiting on a good child to come into your classroom, don’t do that. It might be a disrespectful situation that happened first, but use that and make that bridge that saves his life or saves her life,” said Batiste.
Now, Porter and Batiste travel the country sharing their story with the hopes to inspire teachers to reach out to that not so teachable student. That is exactly what they plan to do this week as keynote speakers at the Reading Association Conference. “Professionally developing teachers to learn more about strategies for instruction in the classroom and just giving them tools for student success in the classroom because student success is their success.”


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