Huami Magazine Detroit March/April 2023

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Training Center

March/April 2023
Volume 2 Issue 3
“Doing Things Her Way” Latitude

God Is A Much Better Driver Than I Am

What if? That thought comes to mind when I consider what my life could be. What if I didn’t live in a particular city, or attend a certain high school? What if I had chosen a different career path or traveled a different road in life? What if I had never applied action to my dream? What if God didn’t choose me to be paired with His vision?

I will be the first to admit that my life has been anything but simple. For the most part, it has been full of winding roads and quite noisy at times. The love and encouragement of my mother, grandmother, and others surely help to soften me; I surely miss my grandma. Yet, the storms and shortcomings I’ve endured have done their job and toughened me a little.

I have learned that my peace lies in the space between the good times and bad times, and for me to enjoy and experience peace, I must work for it. I have also learned that life will get tough, and when we get knocked down, God doesn’t expect us to stay there. There are lessons in all experiences, and getting up and trying to get it right again is part of God’s lesson.

There was a point in my life when I didn’t know if I was coming or going. With every move I made, it was the wrong one. There were also times when I would move or react to whatever thought came into my mind. Again, that turned out to be the wrong thing to do. My point is everything I had done, I did it without seeking guidance from God beforehand. I was driving my own ship, yet I was going nowhere and fast.

While I made a mess of my life, God was there, like He always has been. He allowed me to make those bad decisions and provided grace to ensure I would survive them. During the times when I continued to make the same mistakes over and over again, God continued to cover me because there was a lesson that I needed to learn.

Despite everything I have experienced thus far, God has been right there with me. When it appears things aren’t moving fast enough, I know that God is governing the speed at which things are happening. When we get in God’s way, we block Him from blessing us. Get out of God’s way and allow God to drive. You might just learn that life is a lot easier from the passenger seat.

4 Howard Gaither Photography Tamara Smith Terry L Watson Publisher Dorjae’ McClammey Writer Terry L. Watson Writer Joy Rogers Writer Monica Montgomery Writer Still Shots Photography Photographer Todd Youngblood Photographer General Inquiries Email Want To Advertise? Call 336-340-7844 Mykel Media Company LLC Greensboro, NC 2023 All Rights Reserved Scan The QR Code Above To Visit Our Website 336-340-7844 A Letter From The Editor
L. Watson
Latitude Training Center Tiawna Bryant MARCH/APRIL 2023 DETROIT CONTENTS 6 On The Cover Also Featured 20 Joy Cook She is the peoples publicist. Her firm has helped thousands of people around the country. Learn more about her story. Greensboro, NC 24 Shuntina Manuel Learn more about how she has created a space for women to be there true, authentic selves. Spartanburg, SC 18 Christopher
Meet the visionary of Smart Technology Corporation. He has built his business by faith. Greensboro, NC
Huami Magazine Cutest Baby Zoelle Scott
Care Well of Charlotte Joy Steele The High Point Hush Puppies Nicholas Sturdifen 37 28 10 32
New Hope Christian Academy Alicia and Kimberly

Way” Latitude Training Center


Tiawna Bryant describes herself as an elite member of the healthcare industry.

The Detroit, MI, resident, and native is a Registered Nurse with over 20 years of healthcare experience. She is a mom, a caregiver to her parents, and a leader in her community. She is also the owner of Latitude Training Center.

Her company educates and trains aspiring healthcare workers in basic nursing services. Her students learn how to properly and safely perform Activities of Daily Living (ADL) for those who are ill or debilitated, need assistance, or can’t perform ADL care independently. ADL care consists of grooming, toileting, feeding, dressing, and helping with ambulation and transfers. Through the American Heart Association, Tiawna is a certified CPR Instructor. Additionally, her students are trained in emergency response care. Latitude’s four-week program equips individuals with job-ready skills, the kind of skills that are transferable and remain with them for life.

Tiawna obtained a degree in Applied Science from Davenport University. She began her journey of teaching CPR in her basement. She later expanded in 2018 with the assistance of an entrepreneurial training program. She continued to grow her professional services to a brick-and-mortar location and added healthcare career training. She says, “My vision for creating the Latitude Training Center was formulated while working as a Nurse Educator at the corporate level. During my tenure, I noticed there was a lack of caregivers to support the growing population of our elders. I also became aware of the idleness of our young adults in the community.” Learning those things propelled her into action.

Tiawna’s love for healthcare happened as a child. “As a teenager approaching high school, my mother frequently showed me the Sunday newspaper. She would show me the classified section and always emphasize choosing a career pathway that was in high demand and offered job stability. Becoming a nurse or an educator would provide that. Both nursing and education struck her interest, and from there, the rest is history.

“My vision for creating the Latitude Training Center was formulated while working as a Nurse Educator at the corporate level. During my tenure, I noticed there was a lack of caregivers to support the growing population of our elders. I also became aware of the idleness of our young adults in the community.”
L. Watson
Photos Provided by Tiawna Bryant

Tiawna says she is inspired by the impact she has on her students. “My students look up to me and see themselves as leaders, nurses, caregivers, and educators. When my students ask questions about what direction they should take or how to handle a situation in their personal lives or issues at school, I am amazed and so grateful that I can be a resource. Whether it’s helping someone overcome a hurdle or giving a small nugget of advice, helping with their resumes, or just leading by example on how to conduct yourself and exude professionalism, I am grateful,” she says.

As a new business owner, the challenges never stop, and Tiawna says the one she has faced is learning how much working capital is actually needed to sustain a viable business. “You can have a beautifully well laid out business plan, but without projections and a method for growth and expansion, things can start to look quite different from when your business was just a thought on paper. Working capital is important. Having good personal credit has helped me leverage a lot of the funds that I lacked in my first year of business,” she says.

While the experience has been great for Tiawna, she says she would have done some things in business differently if given a chance to do so. “I would not have put my dreams to the side. When I initially had the inclination to be an entrepreneur, I doubted the timing and ability. The reality is once you have swallowed the idea and it starts to digest in your spirit, it will never go away. I would have started sooner in life and spoken more self-affirming words into the universe to support the thoughts that would have gotten my actions to align with what I knew to be true. Now that I am here and in the midst of it all, I am focusing on the bigger picture.”

Her advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is to be ready for your circle to change and be ready for the naysayers. “Be ready to sacrifice and fight; your vision is your vision. Things and people will come against you that you may never have imagined. It can get rough, and you will ask if this is what I signed up for. My advice is to do as I did. Do your own research and hire professional consultants to help you polish your brand and get your back office paperwork together,” she says.

In the future, Tiawna plans to continue to encourage young adults to invest in themselves and their community. She also plans to continue expanding her brand and enjoy the opportunities and blessings of owning her company.

For more information about Latitude Training Center, please visit their website.

Latitude Training Center 25050 Outer Dr. - Suite 201 Lincoln Park ,MI 48146 313-751-8404 h

Care Well of Charlotte

Caring With Integrity

Joy Caldwell Steele is the CEO of CareWell of Charlotte. Care Well provides a positive educational, social emotional, physical, and spiritually supportive environment. They also serve and empower individuals and their families by giving them the necessary tools to succeed in society.

Care Well is not just a business, but it’s a large part of Joy’s legacy that she takes great pride in. Her parents, Joseph Caldwell Sr. and the late Barbara Caldwell founded Care Well of Charlotte in 1999. She says, “In the early ’90s, my parents and brother discussed opening a family business. With much prayer and consistency Care Well of Charlotte came to fruition. It started with group homes, and we later expanded into an agency that supported, engaged, and advocated for individuals with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.”

Service is the Caldwell family creed, and Joy has always been drawn to care for others in one way or another. She is a native of Charlotte, graduated from West Charlotte High School, and received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Elementary Education from Fayetteville State University. The spirit of entrepreneurship would soon touch Joy’s life. “After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I started my own business called Joyful Noise Day Care. But after only two years, the business closed because I hadn’t yet learned the business side of being an entrepreneur,” Joy explained.

Joy eventually turned to public school teaching after her business closed and taught at Rama Road Elementary in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system. After a year at Rama, Joy gave birth to her first and only child and decided to focus on being a full-time mom to her newborn daughter. In 1998, Joy rejoined the workforce as a special education teacher with Lifespan, Inc. Her love of education and passion for empowering persons with disabilities helped her excel while at Lifespan. “My love for people and my desire to see them succeed despite their obstacles came from God. He continued to bless me and my career, and I was soon appointed District Director at Lifespan,” she says. These growth periods were happening around the same time her father was preparing to start Care Well.

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Because of their father’s career, Joy and her brother Joseph Caldwell Jr. grew up around individuals with disabilities. Joy says it should be no surprise that this was the career path she found herself on.

Before joining the family business, Joy worked with Family Preservation Services. However, the legacy that her father was creating for the family began to be so important to her that it brought clarity to her purpose. “After years of working for other amazing organizations, I felt it was time to bring my talents to Care Well to assist my family in the effort to build something that will outlast us all,” Joy shared.

Care Well began by starting group homes and later expanded into an agancy that supports, engages, and advocates for individuals with intellectual devlopmental disabilties. Today, Care Well is positioned to give care and support to all families in ways others may be unable to. CWC is fulfilling its mission by giving these same individuals an opportunity to live a life of dignity and inclusion. Joy states, “We strive to prepare every individual for independent living.”

Her love for her family and her faith in God are the foundations of what her life has been built on. She shares, “If there is one thing I want everyone to know about me, it would be that I am a God-fearing woman. Everything I do, I do to honor God. Care Well is a faith-based, family-owned, operated, and black-owned company, and our foundation of honoring God through our service is what sets us apart from other agencies,” she says. Detroit - March/April 2023 12

Joy says, “Care Well supports the belief that persons with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities require a robust, multifaceted approach to the habilitative services offered. Residential Supports is one of the many services we provide that assists with acquiring, retaining, or improving skills related to daily living activities. We also offer Community Networking. This tool provides individualized day activities that support our client’s definition of a meaningful day in an integrated community setting. We build independence with our community living and support program. We also support and encourage our clients to explore and make informed choices about competitive integrated employment,” Joy shared.

The effects of services that CWC offers to individuals are life altering, however executing the services has come with its share of challenges. Joy says, “This journey has come with some serious ups and downs. I had some missteps and setbacks in my personal walk and career path, but I keep getting back up. I can do that because I’m not here just for me. We work to equip our Individuals with the best quality of life possible. As I also strive to continue to integrally build the legacy my parents, children, and grandchildren can be proud of.”

Joy believes the best way to maintain the integrity of what she and her family have started is to focus inwardly. “I am building a legacy where we serve in ways that bring joy in whatever we put our hands in to do. To do that, I must examine my impact on those around me. Anything hindering or distorting what we are trying to do has to go. I studied myself, I learned my better self, and now I am bringing my best self to everything and everyone I am connected to. My focus is service and not success. I truly believe in serving others. That means at times, I have to put the needs of others before my own. In today’s culture, that’s not a popular ideology,” she says. “I am honoring my parents by holding fast to what they taught my brother and me. Having a legacy is great, but how did I make someone’s life better? That’s what they did! The legacy isn’t the business. The reputation of the business generates trust in the individuals and their families and inspires my children and grandchildren to positively impact the earth.”

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“I am building a legacy where we serve in ways that bring joy in whatever we put our hands in to do.
To do that, I must examine my impact on those around me. Anything hindering or distorting what we are trying to do has to go.”

With the trials and struggles Joy has had to overcome to get where she is, there is nothing she would change about her journey. “I believe the place I am in life right now is exactly where I am supposed to be. Every obstacle, hard place, and bump in the road I faced was a part of God’s Plan for my life. It has shaped and molded me into the woman I am today and becoming.”

Coming from an unsuccessful attempt at entrepreneurship to leading a successful family-owned black business wasn’t easy. Joy says it took strength, courage, and faith. She also implies that her journey isn’t for the faint of heart and shares some wisdom she has learned through this process. “Trust Gods plan for your life and know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. Don’t be afraid to step out on faith. Trust what God gives you. Remember that success is built from many failures in life. Don’t be afraid of them. Those failures are only catapulting you to the next level of success. Keep showing up, and don’t settle for the first level of success. There is so much more to achieve and attain. By embracing who you are and why you are here, you won’t miss what God has in store for you. Capture the moment and appreciate the inherent responsibility associated with the path God navigates you through. Once you come out on the other side, share your accomplishments with those you are connected to. Let them see the significance of your journey and how it connects to their lives. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:9 Eyes have not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, The things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Joy Steele Care Well of Charlotte 704-537-0052 h

Christopher Jackson Smart Technology Corp.

At that point, Christopher was so tired of starting over. His wife, Jackie, encouraged him to start his own company, and on the 5th day in October 2020, Smart Technology Corporation was born. “Smart Technology Corporation is a place where we do everything smart. We use the best materials and employ the best people to produce products. Our motto is, “there is no wasted time with Smart Technology”. If you can imagine it, we can make it,” he says.

Christopher has customers from all over, including the medical field, consumer goods, the communication industry, and small and local businesses. “When you come to Smart Technology with an idea, no one is turned away. We can design, develop, mass produce, and market our client’s products. Any plastic or metal products, tools, pieces, big or small, we can make,” he says.

He is described as someone who can make just about, well, anything! Christopher Jackson is the owner of Smart Technology Corporation. Based in Greensboro, NC, Smart Technology Corporation is leading the way in the areas of Precision Machining, Injection Molding, and Assembly Fabrication. They also offer various services, including engineering design assistance, reverse engineering, prototyping, and flexible, shortrun production. Additionally, Smart Technology Corporation offers 3D scanning capability and can capture up to two million measurement points for a scanned subject, resulting in a precision of about 1.5 microns, or 0.00006 of an inch.

Christopher currently resides in the Triad area of North Carolina but was born and raised in Warsaw, North Carolina. He grew up playing baseball and was very good, so good that he had plans to play professionally. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Christopher became a victim of a crime that put him in a coma. When he came out of it, he was on disability for three years, and his doctors said he would be 80% medically dependent for the rest of his life. Christopher did not let this discourage him, and he continued to work hard and ultimately regained his mobility.

Now outfitted with a new lease on life, Christoper attended Guilford Tech Community College and received a degree in machinery technology. He also became a machinist and tool maker. After about eight years, he enrolled in North Carolina A&T State University and obtained his Applied Engineering degree. Christopher would later work in various industries, including medical, consumer goods, and automotive, gaining plenty of experience from processing tools, plastics, and materials. Soon he would begin to design his own tools.

Christopher worked as a senior engineer for a company that extruded rubber and helped them launch the X5, X6, and X7 BMW series. He was also working on the new X8 BMW when the Covid 19 pandemic hit, resulting in his being laid off.

At Smart Technology Corporation, a culture of inclusiveness and teamwork has been established. By having those components in place, the feeling of ownership has been easily embraced by everyone. “I don’t say you work for me. You work with me,” says Christopher. “Having that type of work relationship creates a culture of loyalty within the business.”

What separates him from the competition? While getting certified, Christopher wanted to become a Minority Business Enterprise. That certification gives his company access to connect with other billion-dollar companies looking to work with minorities. By 2025, corporations will aim to do trillions of dollars in business with certified MBEs in America. While there are over 30,000 companies in the same industry, African Americans run only six, and Smart Technology is one of them.

Getting his footing in such an underrepresented industry has come with some challenges. One was obtaining capital funding and resources to buy the equipment needed to operate. With continued research, he was able to create a joint partnership with a company that already had the facility and resources.

Despite the challenges, Christoper highlights his family as the #1 inspiration that keeps him going. He aims to create a legacy for his kids that will give them financial independence. In addition, he wants to leave something as a reminder of who their father was and what he did.

Moving forward, Christopher plans to provide an opportunity to NC A&T and GTTC students affiliated with the applied engineering department. These opportunities include internships, co-ops, and job opportunities. The goal of Smart Technology Corporation is to become a billion-dollar company with a true community impact. “Yet, the biggest dream is to be one of the first black billionaire companies in the United States of America or the world.”

Christopher’s advice for future entrepreneurs looking to follow in his footsteps is sensible. “If you want to start your own company, find a mentor, find someone willing to give you information, and how to do and what to do. I wasted time and money trying to do and learn everything simultaneously,” he says.

Photos Provided by Christopher Jackson

The People’s Publicist

Joy Cook Rainmaker and Risk Taker

An often-used aphorism states, “If you know, then you know”. Regarding Joy Cook, having knowledge and access to her has proven to be beneficial and value-added.

Joy Cook is a mother, a mogul, and a media maven. She is also an experienced public and media relations professional, entrepreneur, and consultant. She is highly skilled in building relationships, fostering engagement, and impactful storytelling across traditional and emerging platforms. Joy has successfully mastered and is reimagining the multifaceted world of communications while serving as a mentor and educator for the next generation. She is a trailblazer and expertly guides clients from all professions to next-level success. Her clients have been featured on international platforms and made history as a direct result of her strategies and knowledge of effectively communicating in a noisy world.

Born in Hollywood, California, Joy shares she was destined to be a star. However, her parents had other plans. Her childhood experience happened thousands of miles from Hollywood, in the Bull City community of Durham, NC. She was educated in Durham County Schools and is a member of the first graduating class to go 9th through 12th grade at Riverside High School. “I am proud of my heritage and roots of growing up on Tobacco Road,” she says. Joy grew up in the legendary “Old Farm” neighborhood and attributes her success to her upbringing and her parents, who were attorneys and teachers.

With a sound foundation prepared by her parents, Joy was ready to answer her calling. She is a two-time graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Thread at Yale graduate, holding positions on numerous boards and commissions. While at Yale, she studied under the first woman editor of the New York Times, Jill Abrams. Joy currently serves as Chief Communications Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communication at Fayetteville State University, a public Historically Black University founded in 1867 and the second oldest in the University of North Carolina System. She is also the owner of Joy Cook Public Relations Group. Her company specializes in the art of Strategic Communication. “We are in tune with influencers and why trends really do matter. Our passion and commitment to innovation and excellence make us the top choice for breakthrough public relations and digital engagement results,” she says.

Since assuming her position, Joy has been anything short of busy. She has built a team of strategic communications, executive communications, media relations, campus news, photo/video production, writing, marketing, administrative and project management professionals. Her focus is to advance and promote the reputation of FSU through messaging, storytelling, earned media, and community engagement. As the chief communications officer, Joy has revamped and streamlined FSU’s digital presentation of news items, increased its visibility throughout the community, deepened connections with various local and regional media and communications partners, and secured storylines for the university with major publications such as The Washington Post and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Some of her most recent projects include productions where she was executive producer.

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Photos Provided by Joy Cook

Joy has over 20 years of experience and training in public and media relations, publicity, and digital engagement. In 2010, she founded Joy Cook Public Relations Group (JCPR), where she serves as the CEO and lead strategist. JCPR is one of the longest-running minority-owned PR firms in the Triad and enjoys a clientele of presidents and professionals. Additionally, she has facilitated media training programs for elected officials, as well as C-Suite and executive-level professionals. In 2013, Cook was named one of the Business Journal’s “40 Leaders Under 40” Award Winners. Joy and JCPR Group have been recognized with myriad accolades over the past decade. Joy and her clients have been featured on various news and media outlets, including HLN, CSPAN, BBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, ESSENCE Magazine Online, NPR, and more.

With her skills on full display, Joy has successfully navigated the intersection between traditional and digital media platforms. She has also embraced and mastered the art of social media as an effective and realtime marketing tool. Affectionately titled “Ms. Twitter” by the front page of a popular publication, Joy has positioned herself as one of the nation’s top authorities on Twitter (@JoyCookPR) and stays abreast of current and emerging mediums poised to make an impact. Even more, she is the author of the multiple best-selling book, “Watch the Company You Tweet: A 4 Step Guide on How to Make an Impact on Twitter.”

Joy’s start in public relations happened while working at radio station UNCG 103.1, located on the campus of UNC-Greensboro. She found a passion for publicizing local independent artists, and her interest grew from there.

When asked what she loves most about what she does, Joy responds, “I love that I am a KING maker. I love that I have the ability to turn oblivion into national prominence. I’ve had several mentors that I attribute to my career success. I have learned that success leaves clues, and I have surrounded myself with the best teachers”.

While she wouldn’t change how things have happened along her professional journey, Joy notes that some of the challenges she has faced have helped her become the woman she is today. “I left East Carolina University my freshman year to start a family. I returned to UNCG to finish twice over and start my career, all while being a young mother. In 2010, I left my corporate job to start Joy Cook Public Relations Group. That is exactly 13 years from today. In all that I’ve accomplished, I wouldn’t change anything. I feel like I am just getting started,” she says.

As she looks forward, Joy says her plans are to continue to impact people’s lives by telling the stories that make the world go round. h Detroit - March/April 2023 22
Joy Cook Joy Cook Public Relations Group 336-970-8131


Love Operates In Truth

To truly connect with your inner core, it requires you to be willing to be open with yourself. This means removing every layer and misconception and revealing some things you may have never thought about doing. This is a true example of self-truth. Minister Shuntina Manuel has done just that and allowed her life to serve as an example of God’s unwavering love for us all.

Shuntina is the founder of EMPOWER, formally known as Woman Be Transformed. Shuntina is a worshipper and firm believer in the word and power of God. As a pastor and mentor, she is committed to a lifestyle of service that promotes permanent change and enhanced authenticity. “My ministry did not begin with me saying I wanted to start a ministry. It began with God putting the vision in my heart. That vision was a women’s ministry that affirms all women. My passion will always be to utilize my experiences, insight, and influence to help others evolve into the best version of themselves,” she says. Her ministry is built on a foundation of empowerment, transcending gender, ethnicities, and generations; her only target is to redeem the lost through the demonstrated power of God’s love and restoration.

Shuntina is a native of Greensboro, NC. She is a women’s advocate and female minister who believes in educating, empowering, and equipping all women. Furthermore, Shuntina has been gifted by the grace of God to impact women from various walks of life.

It was in 2018 when Women Be Transformed came to fruition. The first event was held at the Spartanburg Marriott in Spartanburg, SC. Since evolving to EMPOWER, it has successfully reached and guided women to awaken healing, wholeness, and love for themselves and others. EMPOWER assists women in various transitions in their personal life; spiritually, socially and relationally.

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Shuntina shares how she finds life in women who can be truthful with themselves. “I am most inspired by truth. I am inspired by strong women who are unafraid to speak the truth in love. This is not bitter, caustic, cutting, or polluted with sarcasm. It’s not judgmental arrogance, either. It’s a love encounter with other women who are focused on clearing the path for the next generation. It’s women who are not embarrassed or too proud, or afraid to share their stories. Women who invest their lives in others because they understand it’s not all about them,” she says.

What Shuntina loves most about EMPOWER is the ability of her ministry to serve as a safe place where women can support each other. The area of support that EMPOWER focuses on is developing an authentic relationship with Christ and one another through prayerful and intentionally planned events, including fellowship. She also shares that she finds inspiration in those who have shown unconditional love to her. These same individuals have significantly impacted her life and helped her become the woman she is today. These individuals include her mom, her dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and various family members and friends. She also acknowledges several mentors for pouring into her life and ministry. “A common denominator is that they have all loved me unconditionally and each reflects God’s Love for me,” she says.

Shuntina is hosting the Safe Room Experience at the Spartanburg Marriott in Spartanburg, SC in March. The event is FREE to attend and will include special guests Prophetess Kristy Lyles and Dr. Elisa Lashell Harney. Moving forward, Shuntina will continue to EMPOWER women to be the best version of themselves by providing a safe place for them to come and be free.

To learn more about The Safe Room Experience and other events Pastor Shuntina Manuel hosts, please contact her directly.

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“It’s a love encounter with other women who are focused on clearing the path for the next generation. It’s women who are not embarrassed or too proud, or afraid to share their stories.
Women who invest their lives in others because they understand it’s not all about them.” h

New Hope Christian Academy

Sisters Kimberly Gegner and Alicia Williams-Clark are setting the standard in private Christian education in the Abington, Pennsylvania, area. New Hope Christian Academy is a private, faith-based school that services kindergarten through twelfth-grade students. New Hope offers small classroom sizes, which maximize personal attention--enabling students to reach their full potential.

“Our courses are designed to promote excellence. We are committed to offering the best and most advanced educational opportunities available. With our individualized, innovative curriculum, students progress at their own pace,” Alicia, one of the co-founders of NHCA, explained.

One primary truth proven over time is that great things are birthed out of need and adversity. Kimberly, a mother of five, wasn’t getting the support she needed for her oldest daughter Mary. “Mary came to our family through foster care and adoption. She was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiance disorder). Mary struggled in school. By the time my daughter was in eighth grade, she could no longer function in a traditional classroom setting. She acted out in every way possible, her grades were very low, and it got to the point that homeschooling was my only option. By this time, I had three children—Mary, her older brother, and at that time, a new baby. I knew I had to do something, but I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it alone. So, I called Alicia and told her what was happening, and she was immediately like, let’s do it together,” Kimberly shares. The sisters started a homeschool co-op based out of their father’s church.

During that time, Kimberly was in graduate school at Eastern University, working on a master’s in Urban Economics development. “While working on my master’s degree, I started to conceive of a Christian school that catered to non-traditional students who looked like us and was affordable on every budget. The school would have a holistic approach, focusing on mind, body, and spirit,” Kimberly explained. “This was different from any faith-based schools in Philly at the time.”

Understanding right away that their family wasn’t the only ones who needed the smaller non-traditional approach to education, applying her Economic development background, Kimberly and Alicia built a model of a Christian school that was funded by businesses instead of tuition. With their model in place, the sisters jumped in heart first. Now eighteen years later, the school is thriving and growing simply through word of mouth and having a reputation for excellence.

When the school started, Alicia didn’t yet have her bachelor’s degree, but both sisters received Ed.S. in their specified areas. Kimberly’s is in Educational Leadership, and Alicia’s is in Mathematics Education. Kimberly admits that the idea to open a Christian school was seeded with the vision of the church it was birthed from.

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Photos Provided by New Hope Christian Academy

“Vision for the school is aligned with that of the church, which is very social justice oriented. We wanted to create a learning environment that would produce social capital, meaning active and productive community members. These students would help to build their communities from the inside out. Our curriculum isn’t just academics but also focuses heavily on character building. We wanted to make sure that the alumni of our school go on to improve and elevate society as a whole due to having had the New Hope Christian Academy educational experience,” Kimberly explained.

“New Hope Christian Academy is committed to educating each student’s mind, body, and spirit. We believe that the holistic education of children, with a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship, will build strong people, families, and communities, ultimately changing the world,” Alicia shares. “From the start of the co-op, this has been our vision.”

When the homeschool co-op started in September 2004, it had five students. The following year they had seventeen students. “Initially, it was Kim’s oldest son and daughter and our three younger siblings,” Alicia explains. “We playfully called them the Fab Five because they were the first five students enrolled. But once people saw how it worked for them, word got around. Church members and other people we were affiliated with approached us about allowing their children to join, and things just grew from there.”

The school does very little advertising. Most of their students are word-of-mouth referrals. Part of the reason is that the NHCA experience isn’t for everyone. “We focus on students who don’t do well in the traditional school setting. There is an excessive amount of young black males who don’t excel in the traditional classroom. These students function much better in smaller focused groups where they can receive more individual instruction and move at a comfortable pace,” Kimberly explains.

Although NHCA is a private school, it is certified through the state and works in conjunction with the title 1 school district their students live in. Title 1 districts are known to have students who experience higher rates of economic hardships and childhood trauma.

“This is also why tuition is so low. We were taught that lack of funding should never keep you from making something happen. And in some cases, students may receive sponsorship. That is how we run our school,” Alicia explains.

In the eighteen years the school has been in operation, it has seen rough times, but that didn’t stop Alicia and Kimberly. “When we started the school, we only had five students, so it was no problem to house the school at the church. But when the school expanded, we quickly outgrew the small space the church provided,” Alicia said. “Our biggest obstacle has always been finding a building to house the school.”

At times the sisters had to take on other jobs to pay for facilities so they could hold classes. “Things were so bad at one point that we went without salaries. Thankfully we both have very loving and supportive husbands who believe in what we are doing,” Alicia shared. “We had to use our gifts and talents to keep the doors open,” Kimberly said jokingly. “I sold baked goods, and Alicia used her graphic designing degree to earn extra money for the school.”

1052 Easton Road Philadelphia, PA 19150 877-566-0650
Hope Christian Academy

At one point, NHCA had to fold into another local Christian school because they had no place to hold classes. “That was really hard, but we didn’t give up,” Kimberly explained. “I went with our students and taught at the new school, while Alicia went and worked a regular nine to five so we could regain our footing.”

One year later, the school reopened, and all of the original NHCA students returned. “The school administrator admitted that she tried to get some of the students to stay, but they weren’t having it,” she said proudly. “They all came back.”

Over the years, the enrollment for NHCA has fluctuated between thirty and sixty students. Currently, they have fifty students enrolled. The school employs seven full-time teachers, three part-time staff members, and one SEL counselor. Kimberly and Alicia also teach. Alicia works with Elementary students, and Kimberly works with Middle and High School students.

The most significant achievement Alicia and Kimberly like to recognize is when they can celebrate their alumni. “We host a New Year’s Breakfast and an end-of-the-year festival for our alumni every year,” Kimberly explained. “We have students who now have their bachelor’s and Master’s degrees who are coming back and working with us. That’s the social capital I was talking about,” she said proudly.

To hold true to its vision statement, NHCA will keep its enrollment at a maximum of sixty students. But they have been asked about expanding. “We have had great success with our students and the model that we use. I wouldn’t want to increase the class size. But we may open a second location using the same model,” Kimberly explained. “We have been contacted by several organizations asking us if we would be interested in setting up schools in areas like ours around the country. We’ve even been asked if we were going to write about what we’ve achieved. I can see us growing to around ninety to a hundred students over two campuses. I think that would be ideal for what we are attempting to maintain. Our current goal is to grow our staff. I used to love being in the classroom, but as I get older and the students seem to get younger, I see myself taking on more of an administrative role. I would be focusing on mentoring new teachers and staff development. It takes dedication, patience, and a calling to teach our children. I see myself helping to cultivate that in new teachers. I want to instill in them the New Hope Way.” h


Dr. Nicholas Sturdifen

Changing The Landscape of Baseball in The Triad

Businessman, family man, author, and visionary. Dr. Nicholas ‘Nic’ Sturdifen appears to do it all.

Nic, as he prefers, is a proud product of Newport News, Virginia. As a man of Christ, he loves being able to show the love of Christ in everything he does. Nic has several degrees, an undergrad, two master’s, and a doctorate. Nic is a Qualified Mental Health Professional certified by the Virginia Board of Counseling. He is an author and has written two books, the Center of Influence and the 5 Phases of Human Engagement. Also, Nic owns High Point Hush Puppies, a collegiate-level summer league baseball team located in High Point, NC.

With all his endeavors, Nic has found time for more; he co-owns Life Push LLC with his wife, Kaylin. Founded in 2014, Life Push LLC is a human services engagement company that offers mentoring, counseling, and family development. They are also directly engaged with public school systems.

Why did a very involved businessman decide to buy a minor-league baseball team? Nic responds, “I’m big on access. Baseball can be an expensive sport that not many minorities have access to play. I wanted to create a space for athletes of all shades where they could engage and play,” he says. Nic shares he also wanted to let young black men and people of color everywhere know that they don’t just have to play the sport; they can own a team too. “I really want us to be an example of what that looks like, someone who looks like them and is involved with team ownership.” Most importantly, The High Point Hushpuppies helps to support players who wish to create a path to professional baseball.

Nic’s athletic background doesn’t include baseball. He grew up playing soccer and played football at the collegiate level. “Baseball always sparked my interest, yet unfortunately, like many other minorities growing up, I didn’t have access to the sport and wasn’t introduced to it. I know that baseball is deeply rooted in communities across the country, in the world for that matter, and I figured it would be good to be a vehicle to help underserved communities,” he says.

Detroit - March/April 2023 33
“I’m big on access. Baseball can be an expensive sport that not many minorities have access to play. I wanted to create a space for athletes of all shades where they could engage and play.”

Having The Highpoint Hush Puppies located in the Triad made good sense to Nic. He says he wanted to continue upholding and honoring High Point’s history. While he supports getting more African Americans involved with the sport of baseball, he says he doesn’t want to make it a black-and-white thing. “This isn’t a black team, it’s not a white team, this is a team open and accessible for everyone,” he shared.

Nic says his biggest inspiration is time. He explained that we all have a limited time here on earth, and he’s motivated by wasting his share. His focus is to help others and lead them into a better place. His biggest fear is when it’s all said and done, he’ll look back and wish he had done more and pressed harder. He wants to leave empty, knowing he gave it all and left behind a legacy for his kids and generations.

He also finds rest in the work of others who have come before him. He shares, “I look back at each generation, and I can see the progress. Every generation is responsible for building on the shoulders of the previous generation. From my great-grandparents to my children, work happened, and the work must continue.”

As for the future of Nic and The High Point Hushpuppies, he plans to continue growing the team and changing the perspective of baseball and what it can be. He also plans to continue helping others, providing affordable entertainment to families, and bringing more revenue to the Piedmont triad area. Yet, his vision doesn’t end with baseball. Nic plans to own a soccer team and even build a school.

For those who may follow his path, here’s some advice that Nic offers. “Understand this, to be successful, especially in entrepreneurship, you will have to be either lucky or blessed. I recommend being blessed because luck can run out. You must have strong-rooted faith before you jump in. Also, stop waiting on other people to believe in you, because their beliefs have nothing to do with your success,” he says. h

To learn more about Nic Sturdifen and The High Point Hush Puppies, please visit their website. Detroit - March/April 2023 34 Detroit - March/April 2023 36 FAYETTEVILLE STATE UNIVERSITY has NC PROMISE You Heard Right! Apply Today! College You Can Afford! Fayetteville State University is thrilled to be the state’s newest NC Promise school. We want you to be focused on building your future, not worried about how to pay for it. FSU will continue to offer the same high-quality degree programs and the same expansive course catalog. The funding for NC Promise has been awarded to FSU by the State of North Carolina, meaning nothing changes but your budget. $500 $2,500 In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition


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