Steve Perry, the founder of and principal of what U.S. News and World Report has cited as one of the top schools in the country, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, is a contributor for CNN and MSNBC, an Essence magazine columnist, best-selling author, and host of the No. 1 docudrama for TVONE,”Save My Son.”
Here, he shares insight on the year old T.D. Jakes School of Leadership, where he serves as an education expert.
Please share insight on the T.D. Jakes School of Leadership.
It’s an exciting opportunity for people throughout the country to have access to a curriculum that’s essential to update your career. See it’s easy for us to think that because we have a degree or because we graduated from high school that we have all the skills that we need. But the T.D. Jakes School of Leadership provides you with access to skills that are essential to improve your ability to move up in your career or life. It’s not just about getting a better job or getting that promotion. It might be to help you build the confidence that’s necessary to follow through with your own dream. You’re gonna learn from some of the best in the business and you’re gonna learn from a man who I’ve developed so much respect for, and that’s Bishop T.D. Jakes.
Why did you want to be a part of the School of Leadership?
Bishop Jakes and I began a conversation about two years ago with how we might be able to work together, to take this concept of education and make it more global, to make it more accessible. One of the things that he has done is, he’s made religion accessible to the common woman and man. What I have worked to do is to make education accessible to the common child. What we wanted to do is to bring together that’s interesting, making education accessible by putting it online through the T.D. Jakes School of Leadership, which is powered by Regent University.
You say education and religion, as a culture we’re taught that those things go in separate directions. How do we overcome that school of thought that you’re not trying to teach us how to be ministers?
What’s important to understand is I’m not a preacher. I might dress like one from time to time but I am not a preacher. I’m an educator. The only reason I’m interested in this is because I believe that it provides an essential set of skill set to our community. But let’s think about religion across the religions. Preachers, bishops, pastors, imams, rabbis are all teachers. That’s what they all are; they’re all there to teach a group of people about something that they know about. In their case it’s spirituality, so if you want to learn from someone you ought to learn from master teachers. No one decides that they are going to go to a school that’s Georgetown, Boston College, Notre Dame, or Brigham Young without some knowledge of those schools being religious institutions. That doesn’t mean that the institutions can’t provide a simply effective educational experience. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, those are all solid colleges. Well working with Reagent and Bishop Jakes is giving me the opportunity to make it clear that education needs to be accessible to all people, even if they are pastors.
What successes have you had as an educator?
The Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut, sent 100 percent of its graduates on to four-year colleges since we opened in 2005. You’d be hard pressed to find too many other schools anywhere in America that are urban that have done that. But not just urban, any schools. The reason we’ve been able to do that is because we work with love. We work to make sure that our children understand that they are loved. We work very hard to ensure that they have access to the most compelling academics experience that they could have. It’s that commitment that brought me here because so much of what I do is limited to the children who go to my school. Working with Bishop Jakes provides me the opportunity to have access to hundreds of thousands of people who will be students of various ages from all over the world.
Is there a minimum age to register for the School of Leadership?
There is not, it’s open admissions so these leadership skills are not just esoteric. They’re practical skills that you need in order to start something and finish something. Just everyone, everyone can use some training and this is a six week experience that you’ll have access to right online. You’ll also get to learn from individuals such as, Daymond John who we know of Fubu and his entrepreneurial classes. I’m a social entrepreneur, Daymond John is a traditional entrepreneur, and Bishop Jakes is both a traditional entrepreneur as well as a social entrepreneur. So you are learning from three African American men who have in our respective areas set a pretty significant trail that we’ve blazed.
What do you hope that the students of the School of Leadership will take away from the experience?
What I know that you’ll take from the School of Leadership is a better understanding of you. Every leader needs to understand before they learn to lead anybody. All of us have to lead someone. You don’t necessarily have to lead a corporation but you can lead the corporation at your house. You could lead your children. You could lead your family. We all need to develop leadership skills because we’re all called upon to lead at some point. The T.D. Jakes School of Leadership will provide you with essential skills, whether macro meaning big, big picture, big business or micro meaning small picture, small business, your home, your community, your church, your not-for-profit organization, your media company. These skills will give you the confidence that you will need to develop the competence that’s essential to move your career and life forward.