Ted Simons: Byron Garrett is former head of the PTA and current chairman of the national family engagement alliance. He has written a book titled the ABCs of life which provides an alphabet of practical advice for young people. Glad to have you.
Byron Garrett: Glad to be here.
Ted Simons: Who is Byron Garrett?
Byron Garrett: He raised both nephews from middle school through high school. I would baby-sit him and he would say, Uncle Byron, A is for apple. I said, that makes no sense. How about A is for attitude. We went all the way through the alphabet and transferred it into a book.
Ted Simons: This -- looking at this book it seems geared toward young people. Maybe not so young as well.
Byron Garrett: We're all kids at heart. But it was originally written with students in mind, but it had such universal principle. It really fits the entire cross generational message.
Ted Simons: Why is a book like this necessary?
Byron Garrett: In this day and age when you look at the challenges young people face but specifically in school, I chose Scholastic, they were great enough to publish it. Whether it's bullying, other things from a teasing, taunting perspective, they need continued inspiration, that type of guidance to keep them moving forward. I was just at Alhambra High School. Siting there with two freshman classes those who know where they want to be still need that extra lift to say you can do amazing things if you choose to.
Ted Simons: Expect failure but also expect success.
Byron Garrett: Expect failure. The notion is anyone who knows how to ride a bike they know not because they fell off but because they got back on. At some point things didn't work the way they wanted it to. You rise from that and end up being successful.
Ted Simons: Chapter for N, never, never, never say never.
Byron Garrett: That's so easy and so true. It's difficult. Sometimes people hit a wall. They want to say I want to give in, give up, get out. They suffer from what I call stinkin' thinkin'. You have to pursue your passion.
Ted Simons: Back to what you were saying, people can say that's easy for Byron. He has that personality. It could be your brain chemistry. People are up, positive, moving forward. Others may be more reflective, depressive.
Byron Garrett: We all come from different situations. I have seen people that have gone from losing avenue to luxury lane and luxury lane to losing avenue. It's not a notion of where you come historically. Your origin does not equal your destination. We need young people to realize that everything may not work the way you want it to now but you have to focus on what you want to accomplish. Success doesn't happen overnight but it does happen over time.
Ted Simons: How do you get past it because it's innate?
Byron Garrett: We have challenges. I don't want anyone to say anyone in life who is highly successful did not overcome obstacles. We all do. How do I transform this stumbling block into a stepping stone. Is the glass half empty or half full. Really looking at it from the perspective of what can I do to prepare me for where it is I want to be tomorrow.
Ted Simons: Learn how to learn.
Byron Garrett: Well, continuous learner or being a lifelong learner. Growing up my parents would say you don't have any homework tonight? Great. There's a set of encyclopedias. We want you to write a book report on duckbill platypus if you can figure out how to spell it. You should be the expert on any area that you want to enter. In this day and age it helps young people and adults realize you should continuously be learning and improving to move forward.
Ted Simons: Is your life different than in the past? If so, or if not if it's always been this way, who inspired you?
Byron Garrett: It is different. I think we live from our experiences always tell folks there a group of individuals you will never meet. Yvonne Garrett, my parents, my fourth grade teacher, my sixth grade teacher, they are folks when I would hit a wall they were the ones I still hear their consistent encouragement saying regardless of what someone else says you have the opportunity to exceed if you choose to.
Ted Simons: That says so much about how important teachers are.
Byron Garrett: Right.
Byron Garrett: Education is critical. Adults have a unique role not only in the classroom but community based organizations outside the classroom to encourage young people and instill a strong work ethic and a belief in themselves they can rise above the occasion. People rise or fall to the expectation you set for them. We have to continue to say regardless of your background, your situation, if you want an apology I'll apologize for where you came from but when you wake up tomorrow morning there's still a responsibility to move forward and deliver. You don't have to stay stuck in the same situation you're in.
Ted Simons: What type of response have you been getting?
Byron Garrett: The response has been great. From adults, grandparents, students, everyone in between. I believe the message is so simple, the realty is it resonates. You talked about a couple letters or chapters. My favorite is X. X stands for “X-ray your own life.” You have 24 hours in a day, 12 hours to mind your business, 12 hours to take care of your business, zero hours to mind somebody else's business.
Ted Simons: The ABC's of life. Good to have you.
Byron Garrett: Yes! Published by Scholastic. Thank you so much.
Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.