Educator and philanthropist Bill Cosby was the guest speaker at a special panel discussion to answer questions from interns, student teachers and developmental research student workers in the field of education on Tuesday in the College of Pharmacy’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield auditorium.
Formally titled “Florida A&M University College of Education Student Teachers’ Unasked Questions and Unfinished Answers,” the program began as Cosby entered the room at approximately 4:50 p.m. wearing a head-to-toe green Rattler jumpsuit.
The program started on a humorous note as Cosby rocked to the sound of beats from members of the Marching 100 percussion section but quickly shifted to seriousness as he began to speak to the crowd and asked for feedback from young teachers.
“The system has allowed the beat-down,” Cosby said in reference to how student teachers should continue to try to make corrections necessary to aid their students.
Billy Sanders, a second grade teacher at FAMU DRS, said he has faced the problem of not being provided help and resources for his pupils.
“Teachers should do more,” Cosby said in response. He said at a historically black university like FAMU, young teachers should utilize their churches and the surrounding community.
“Use common sense to solve problems even if it means losing your job over striving for change,” Cosby said. “Call people. Don’t just let it happen. You’ve been that way for too long.”
One student educator shared a personal success story involving two 14-year-old fifth graders and became emotional when Cosby approached her to share his microphone.
Eboni Aubry, an elementary education student, embraced Cosby with tears in her eyes and encouraged other young teachers to follow her example by taking struggling students aside in order to help them pass tests.
During the panel discussion, the topic of parental involvement came to the forefront.
Panelist Yolanda Bogan, associate professor in educational leadership and human service, said, “Teachers must not stop the good fight.”
She emphasized that some parents are just not going to show up or get involved in their child’s education.
Cosby said teachers, who are the safety net for at risk children, shared the sentiments.
“Teachers may be the last stop before a child ends up being institutionalized,” he said.
Tianna Bailey, 24, an education student and intern from Minneapolis, said the discussion provided her encouragement to remain steadfast as a teacher.
Other panel guests included Assistant Psychology Professor Deanna Burney and Charles Ervin, assistant professor of the secondary-education foundation.
At the end of the dialogue, Scott Dantley, dean of the College of Education, and other leaders in the department gave awards to five honorees that recently traveled to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore to take part in an educator’s competition.
Markita Samuel, Assistant Professor Bernadette Kelley, Jon Serrano, Danyelle Sapp and Matthew Pridgen all received first-place awards for their involvement in the Pre-Service Teacher Conference.
Director of Bands Julian White also awarded Cosby and his wife, Camille, as honorary members of the Marching 100.
Panelist Mary Newell expressed her attitude of success at the end of the program.
“The role of a teacher has to change,” said Newell, assistant professor in the division of curriculum instruction and school.
“You can’t be a teacher and walk out of the classroom at 3:30. It’s a mindset that has to change.”