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A bright light at the Boys and Girls Harbor

Jasmin K. Williams | 5/25/2011, 9:23 a.m.
As the director of the successful Trio Upward Bound program at the Boys and Girls...
Crystal Floyd (Jasmin K. Williams photo)

Floyd has dealt with difficult issues and has helped her students overcome steep challenges.

"Each generation has their own individual issues. In the 1970s, it was a little different. A lot of students were caught up in the movement and were very involved with becoming a close community, working with each other and helping each other. It was a close-knit, extended family. This was the same in the 1980s. The group was a cohesive one. Of course, they had issues, but they dealt with them like a family.

"Things started changing in the '90s. We had a number of students, and still do, who have parents who fell by the wayside because of crack and other issues. Students did not have the motivation to do what they wanted to do. They had aspirations but no motivation to work towards them. They did not feel that they could achieve their goals. They were just living day-to-day. It seemed that the students became more individualistic. You didn't have that family, that tightness that there used to be years ago. That's one thing that we're trying to get back," she said.

"We go on a retreat one weekend per year. The students can loosen up and get out of the city. They open up and begin to talk about issues, and that's when the cohesiveness begins to develop. But then once they get back here, they're in the real world, and it's hard for them to hold on to that. I don't have the answer, but we have to continue to work with them so that they can stand on their own two feet and trust themselves and actually achieve what they want.

"I try to get them to believe that I really do care. This is not about a job. This is my passion. This is what I love. I'd like to think that I get that across to them, that I care. It's not just about caring, but that I'm willing to walk the walk with you," she said.

Floyd has learned lessons of her own over the years.

"When I first entered this field, I used to scream and fuss. Then I said, wait a minute, I'm looking like I'm crazy. I need to calm this down and approach them in a different way. That's more effective than just yelling and screaming," said Floyd.

"If I can get them to do what I need them to do using different methods--like Malcolm said, by any means necessary--I'm going to do it. I've been told by parents that when a student has done something, that they were more afraid for me to find out than a parent or grandparent," she said.

Why?

"I put a lot of expectations on students, and they know that when they don't live up to those expectations, I personalize everything," said Floyd. "I know you should be objective, but how can you be objective when you're dealing with your kids? These are my kids. Once you get involved with a child's life, they become part of you.