Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and, for Rictor Craig, this statement is a true testament to educators worldwide. As a change agent responsible for transforming young children into scholars, Craig’s passion and sheer determination, especially for black men, is to provide them with the necessary tools to become successful and change the narrative one child at a time. Craig shares his story of success, the best advice he ever received, and what it means to be one of our BEMM 100 Men of Distinction.
Name: Rictor Craig
Profession: Principal/Educator/CEO and Founder of NABME
One Word That Describes You: Influencer
BEMM: What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
RC: To me, being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction is a great honor. As an educational leader and change agent, you seldom see the fruits of your labor immediately. This, to me, solidifies that my work to change generations is not in vain and is noticed.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I had a scholar that academically and behaviorally was not meeting my expectations and the expectations of our school community. I made an asserted effort to really get to know him beyond the classroom. I took him out, had in-depth discussions about his life and future goals, and most importantly, treated him fairly and showed that I cared. Because of my consistency, unwillingness to accept anything less than GREATNESS from him, and simply being present, he turned out pretty well. He is now a college graduate currently pursuing his master’s degree.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
I look for drive. Its important for those around me to have the drive to always do and strive for more. Don’t be complacent. Never be satisfied, and even more importantly, never be satisfied with my accomplishments. Continue to push me to greater and I will always do the same for you.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Currently, I am ending my 4 year tenure as principal with my current school, Friendship Woodridge International school. I will be planning next year to open up an all-boys middle school in Washington, D.C., in 2017. I am the chairman and CEO of The National Association of Black Male Educators, a non-profit whose mission is to increase the number of responsible black male educators who succeed professionally and are positively impacting their communities. In addition, I am currently pursuing my Ed.D in Educational Leadership from The University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
What is the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I have ever received is in a piece of literature that I learned while joining my college fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi: “Once a task has begun, never rest until it’s done. Be the labor large or small, do it well or not at all.”
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Although you are only one person, you can make a difference. Don’t refuse to do the things you can and need to do because you think that you alone cannot make a difference. There is power in your voice and power in your ability to be heard by others. Someone is watching you. What they are watching is up to you. Be a positive influencer of change.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I pray and ask God to guide my tongue. It is always my goal to move an audience anytime I speak or meet with someone. I always want to be prepared, so I do whatever is necessary to prepare myself. Every meeting is important to me, so knowing the names and dynamic of my audience is also important as well. When I leave a space, the most important thing is for my audience to remember 2 things: my name and my message.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
When I am on vacation I like to spend time with family, exercise, and relax. My best vacation was a trip I took to Dubai with my family. We were able to enjoy one another and I got to see my daughter experience a different culture and learn new things. We were able to ride ATV’s and camels in the desert, visit the local mosques, and experience new foods and culture.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
If I could travel and stay anywhere in the world, I would go to Greece. I’ve always wanted to visit Greece because I heard the country is rich in history and architecture. It’s always interesting to learn about history and Greece has so much of it.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I am truly honored to be featured as a Modern Man. I hope me being featured influences others to pursue a career in education to become a change agent for the next generations that will come after us.
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