Terrence Lester speaks at RBHS


Colin Daniels

Terrence Lester gives a speech to students in the RB Main Gym.

Colin Daniels, Staff Reporter

Last Wednesday, September 7, author and activist Terrence Lester came to Riverside Brookfield High School to tell his story as a person who experienced homelessness and push the message of acceptance and loving oneself. 

Lester created the charity  “LoveBeyondWalls” and is the owner of the Atlanta based “Dignity Museum”. Additionally he has written several books about social justice and homelessness, focusing on the perspective society holds of homeless people. All of which, as is his goal, intend to put homeless and impoverished people in a new light while pushing the message of being kind and empathetic towards others. 

Assistant Principal of Student Affairs Dave Mannon discovered Lester through a guest appearance on a podcast he was listening to about a year ago. Using grant money, RB was able to invite Lester as a guest speaker to talk to students and the community about social justice. 

“His message spoke to me a little bit in regards to how we can help those who are less fortunate you know? And it really spoke to me and I thought how great of a connection it would make to our students,” Mannon said.

After the speech given during school, students came up to Lester to talk, ask questions, and take pictures with him. Many students and community members who heard Lester’s message expressed how his words resonated with them.

“You know, he started out his presentation yesterday with ‘Do you love yourself?’ and so his foundation, ‘LoveBeyondWalls’, is committed to serving those who are less fortunate whether it’s financially or they don’t have a lot of the other things that maybe students might have on a daily basis. And so really seeing through the outer shell of students and creating an awareness that there is more than just the outer shell of students, and connecting that message with how we treat each other at school,” Mannon said.

Lester’s speech involved a variety of topics relating to social/emotional well being and empathy. He connected the topics to difficulties in his own life, such as experiencing homelessness and poverty as a young adult as well as struggles with his recent injury, stemming from a car crash this past May. 

RB has programs available for students affected by financial issues, such as reduced and free lunch as well as having a homeless liaison Christine Tappert. Tappert is a school social worker, and is one of the many staff members available at RB that students can talk to when facing problems of that sort. 

“Our student services office and Mrs. Tappert does a phenomenal job…once we are informed of a homeless situation, there’s a ton of supports that we wrap around those students that’s specifically aligned through our student services office,” Mannon said.

The administration at RB expressed satisfaction with how the assembly went, mentioning that they were looking forward to future assemblies, including the upcoming speaker coming in to talk about internet safety to RB students and the community. 

“I thought our kids were great, and I hope that going forward as students interact with each other throughout the remainder of the school year that they stay positive, and everyone has their own story, so we shouldn’t look past any student for who they are, the disability they may have, and we should all treat each other with love and hopefully in doing that we’ll continue to enjoy the environment that we have here at Riverside Brookfield,“ Mannon said.