I wouldn’t change the opportunities I’ve been afforded through HUB’s guidance.
John David Frame
Barbour Magnet Middle School; Detroit, MI
What year did you graduate from HUB
High School you attended and graduated
Cranbrook Kingswood, Class of 2003
What are your fondest memories of HUB?
I recall the many hours I spent in Dr. Greene’s and Ms. Vettel’s offices during the school years at Cranbrook—mostly because the dormitories were so hot! But also because they were so welcoming and they were a source of guidance and support. Dr. Greene and Ms. Vettel always praised us for what we were doing. They knew that it was not easy and that many of us had very difficult home lives. They acted as our parents when we were away from home. The HUB United Voices rehearsals were also quite memorable. I channeled a lot of that energy when I joined the SoulUmoja Gospel Choir at the University of Chicago. All around me at HUB were really amazing people just trying to better their lives, reach their goals.
Who was the most influential person to you at HUB and why?
This is a trick question! There’s no way for me to narrow it down to one single individual. However, I will say that I owe Ms. Tate, my eighth grade guidance counselor at Barbour Magnet Middle School, a huge thank you (that’s an understatement!). She’s the one who put the application for HUB in my hands and forced me to complete it before the deadline. What a blessing. Where would I be? Surely, I have to think that my self-determination and outgoing nature would have led me to success no matter the circumstances, but I wouldn’t change the opportunities I’ve been afforded through HUB’s guidance. Dr. Green, Ms. Vettel, the donors, and countless others who work so tirelessly for this organization deserve the spotlight. They make it possible.
Who are other influential people in your life and why?
My heroes have always been those who serve the world and work to make it a better place. Since becoming a teacher, I have a newfound respect, appreciation, and gratitude particularly for those who have devoted their lives to serving underrepresented minorities in our country and beyond. This type of work is difficult and exhausting. It takes a special kind of human being to undo what has been the norm for centuries.
The University of Chicago, B.A. 2007—English Language and Literature with Honors; minor in African/African-American Studies
Pace University, M.S. 2009 –Adolescent Education
Are you a first generation college graduate?
My cousin graduated from a four-year university prior to my acceptance into the University of Chicago. However, in my immediate family, I am the first to attend college and also to graduate from a top-tier school. My older brother recently earned his Bachelor’s degree in accounting. I’m so proud of him; he’s had to overcome so many obstacles!
Background information on yourself and your career:
In the fall of 1998, Ms. Tate, my 8th grade guidance counselor, put a HUB application in my hand and told me that I needed to complete it and return it by the end of the week. At first, I was turned off by the required year-round learning and tutoring. However, after contemplating the opportunities that HUB would afford me, I wondered why I ever hesitated. My classmates at the time must have thought that I was insane! But I have to tell you that when I arrived at the entrance to Cranbrook Schools that summer of 1999, I was wrought with excitement and nervousness. Who thought that I was worthy of this wonderful opportunity? So unique and special was this place, indeed. I hadn’t even begun my high school career and here I was feeling ahead of the game. I recall that first blistering hot summer, the many friends that I made, and how special I felt for those six weeks. I went off to Cass Technical High School in the fall feeling ready to take on any challenges. And many challenges did come that year, inside and outside of school. One of the best things I did as a freshman was joined the robotics team: Detroit Schools United. I used to spend hours past the school day watching my fellow students and engineers build a robot from scratch. I wrote up our team’s discoveries, profile information, and progress/setbacks, and helped to get us to the National Robotics Competition held that spring at Walt Disney World. That next summer, I was offered one of two Cranbrook Kingswood scholarships from HUB. Although it meant moving away from home, I didn’t hesitate and began planning for my new journey that very day.
Attending Cranbrook was an eye-opening experience. With HUB mentors close by, I embarked on a journey that was the most challenging I’d ever experienced. While at Cranbrook, I quickly discovered my love for theatre and acting, went on an eleven-day hiking trip through the Smoky Mountains, competed twice as a State Finalist in the Michigan Forensics League Tournament, and honed my leadership skills through service as a Resident Advisor, a board member of the African-American Awareness Association, and Boarding President of Gold Key Society. I also sought guidance, inspiration, and support from my counselor and English teacher, Carla Jackson (now Carla Young).
Upon graduation from Cranbrook, I attended The University of Chicago, earning a partial scholarship through the Riversville Foundation. By my third year, I had settled on my interest in humanities with emphasis on contemporary African-American literature, South African literature, and drama. I was an active participant in University Theater, where I performed in eight productions and directed two plays by prominent African-American female playwrights: Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Venus, on which I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis about the “tradition” of blackface minstrelsy, postmodernism, and the historical representation of the African/African-American. I was an active member of the Organization of Black Students where I served as Cultural Show Chair and co-wrote and directed two annual productions. Because HUB United Voices was such a memorable experience during the HUB Summer Sessions, I continued my involvement in vocal music ensemble, performing as a tenor in SoulUmoja, the University of Chicago’s solo gospel choir.
I was fortunate enough to study abroad in South Africa during the winter of my third year, and to this day, I believe that experience to be the most rewarding and valuable experience of my life. It is incredibly difficult to express the impact I felt being in Africa and seeing the many facets of a country in the midst of important and integral change. I was angry and inspired by what I’d seen. It produced in me a love for traveling and exploring the world and other cultures abroad.
I emerged from The University of Chicago with a need to service those who are not given a fair and equal chance in this country, just as HUB has done for many students in Michigan. I was selected as a NYC 2007 Corps Member for the Teach for America program upon graduation and moved to New York City to begin my career as a high school English teacher and my graduate teaching studies at Pace University.
After four years of teaching English at a small high school in Brooklyn, I decided to take a position as a 9th Grade Writing teacher at Newark Collegiate Academy, A KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) High School in Newark, NJ. In the summer of 2012, I will be moving to Los Angeles, CA as a founding reading and writing teacher at KIPP Philosophers Academy, a brand new charter middle school in South Los Angeles. Much of what I take with me to Los Angeles will be predicated on what I learned as a HUB student. I value that experience as the catalyst for my past, present, and future successes.
Because of the seed planted by HUB, I have been able to travel the world, experiencing not only South Africa, but also Puerto Rico, Colombia, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Croatia, Turkey, Aruba, the Netherlands, the British Antilles, Montreal, and Toronto, Ontario. I look forward to exploring so many more places and using my experiences to influence the work that I do with my students.
I am preparing to begin my 6th year in public education as a founding language arts teacher at KIPP Philosophers Academy in South Los Angeles, California.
Current Residence (City, State)
Jersey City, New Jersey (Soon to be Los Angeles, California)
Beloved by Toni Morrison
It is the most beautiful, affecting piece of literature I have ever read. Thanks to Mr. Linder at Cranbrook for exposing me to such an important piece of literature in Junior English class.
Mantra on keys to success
“Threshold of revelation”
“Threshold of revelation” is a line from one of my favorite plays, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. To me, Kushner meant that one must always be on the brink of discovery. That spark between thinking something and having it manifest itself into reality is how mountains are moved, how changes are made. We must always be looking for the answers to some of life’s toughest questions and face even the hardest of “revelations” with tenacity, wit, and zeal. That is how we move forward. That is the purpose of life for me.