Born and raised in Jamaica, Andrea Nelson-Royes grew up knowing that she wanted to become an educator. Coming from a family of educators (her mother is a teacher), Nelson-Royes innately had the same desires and love for education. At the age of 17, she moved from Jamaica to Florida. And while her enviroment may have changed, her vision and passion for education has stayed the same.
Having minored in psychology and majored in education at Nova Southeastern University, Nelson-Royes obtained her master’s degree in 1999, then her doctorate in education and organizational leadership in 2010. Inspired by her mother, she?s helped her mother open a pre-school and academy in North Lauderdale, Florida called Bethlehem Academy.
Now, she is the author of two educational books: ?Transforming Early Learners into Superb Readers? and ?Success in School and Career: Common Core Standards in Language Arts K-5.? As a mother, educator and educational researcher, she is onto her third book and is nowhere near slowing down. Titled, ?Why Tutoring is a Way to Achieve Success?? due out April 2015, she talks about the different methods of tutoring and empowering your children, and the importance of tutoring in a child?s education. She?s also writing a non-fiction children?s book.
With all of her accolades, Nelson-Royes found time to speak with TNJ.com about her future endeavors, the importance of research and her thoughts on politicians’ educational efforts.
TNJ.com: According to the NY Times, Mayor Bill de Blasio has created a plan to allocate money to support failing schools and add an additional hour of instructional lessons, as opposed to doing away with them. What do you think about the plan he is implementing?
N-R: Well, I would say that he has done his proper research to know how effective it can be and yes children need extra help because children who are struggling usually need to get some extra help. If it?s an hour of extra help,? whether it?s two or three times a week, that might be beneficial. My book, ?Why Tutoring?? presents another avenue. With that extra help – that afterschool help – children can be really empowered and get assistance ? whether with homework or with problems they’re having in the classroom. So, obviously research has been conducted. I?m almost certain he would not be spending that amount of money if the research had not been done. And getting children extra help is definitely an extra way of making a successful society.
TNJ.com: Sometimes in our communities, the parents know that a particular school is failing so they don?t really care anymore. What should they do?
N-R: You have to get the Parent Teacher Association involved where they can get those people and educate them because you need partnership and you need collaboration in order to build a strong community and build strong schools. So sometimes these individuals need to be properly educated.
TNJ.com: You mentioned that parents need to be educated. What?s the biggest misconception that people get wrong about education or about the educational system?
N-R: That it?s all left up to the teachers. I think a lot of times, we have a lot of excellent teachers, both novice and veteran teachers, but as parents sometimes they have to help these teachers, and help their children at home. Work with the schools, and work with the teachers to help make education better.
TNJ.com: So you?re saying having a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) plays a huge role?
N-R: Yes. Educating the parents, and most times educating the parents through the association or sending things home to them with emails and technology today is a matter of sending information home with the child via the Internet to inform them of their resources and what can be done if they all work together.
TNJ.com: Who are some of the people that encouraged you to embark on this research career path?
N-R: Well, I had one educator, his name is Robert Rahamin, who was very effective in my career. And I had an excellent counselor named Dr. Clyde Bailey. They have endorsed my books. Bailey was an excellent counselor and put me on the right path to a successful career.
TNJ.com: Bill and Hillary Clinton initiated a program where they?re encouraging pregnant women to read to their unborn babies. How important is it for infants to grasp education and learn at such an early age?
N-R: I think children are very receptive at an early age, and they are learning.? And reading to a child in the womb is also a very powerful way to learn. Most of all, start early when they’re born — don?t start late. Start exposing your children to words and start exposing them to as many words and vocabulary as you can, so that when they do start attending school they have those words and vocabulary available to help them be effective readers.
TNJ.com: Why do you think America?s education system is low-ranking compared to, say, China?
N-R: Well, it can be for a number of different reasons. I think one of the biggest reasons is that we as adults need to help our children a little bit more, and become a little bit more involved in the school system. Parents, we need to be a little bit more actively involved in the school system: helping educators, getting in touch with our politicians and becoming involved in the system to make education system stronger.
TNJ.com: If a student is found to have a learning disability, how should the parent approach that situation?
N-R: Find all the resources that are available to help the child. You can go to your school, speak to administrators, and with the age of computers you can do the research yourself, and you can find out what resources are available to help your child.
TNJ: Have you ever encountered a situation like that?
N-R: Even myself as a parent, when my child struggled, I had to go out there and find all the additional resources that were available and see which one worked for my child. I had to figure out which was the best reading program and see how she learned best. I had to see if she was visual or auditory. You have to invest in your child. An educator can help and assist you, but you have to go out there and find whatever resources are available to help the child.
TNJ.com: Expound on that a little bit. How do you figure out how your child learns best? I know I?m a visual learner, but it took me some years to find that out. Kids are young and may not know. How can? parents guide them? What are some tips you used with your children?
N-R: A lot of times, teachers will tell parents that their children can be tested. There are a lot of tests that are sometimes done at the school screening. What the screening does is tell you how your child learns best. Some children are auditory. With myself and my child, I know we?re particularly visual. We have to see it to learn it. So with the different learning techniques that are available, you need to know which one is best for your particular child.
TNJ.com: Once you figure out what works for your child, you should pretty much capitalize on it. Right?
N-R: You don?t really capitalize on it because you want to work with the child?s weakness. You always want to work with the child?s weakness. You can?t always capitalize on what?s best. You have to almost try to refocus that child at times also to use other skills that work best for their particular learning skill, but also figure who to hold accountable. We should hold everyone accountable?including parents. If we want our children to do well, we can?t only rely on the teachers. We can?t only rely on the politicians. We have to rely on ourselves. We have to help our children. We have to push the initiative. So accountability takes is on everyone in the community.?
TNJ.com: What?s the biggest mistake a parent can make?
N-R: Not being involved. If you?re not involved, you don?t know what is going on. Leaving everything up to the schools and the politicians is a mistake. Not making your voice heard and not being involved in your child?s learning are also big mistakes.