Chandler entrepreneur goes ‘old school’ with kids - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler entrepreneur goes ‘old school’ with kids

November 11th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler entrepreneur goes ‘old school’ with kids

By Melody Birkett

Fifth-grade students in the Chandler Unified School District are learning the art of public speaking for about 30 days under a pilot program.

“In some ways, public speaking is a lost art,” said Instructor “Diva” Danielle Williams, Entrepreneur and owner of Diva Strong Media, LLC, who’s teaching three classes at three schools.

“When it comes to the younger generation, speaking is sort of on the back burner because technology has replaced it with emojis, different symbols and text messaging,” Williams said. “There are fewer words. Language has taken on a whole different meaning. And the art of conversation has shifted and it’s no longer an eloquent way we speak.”

Chandler Councilwoman Christine Ellis recommended the program to the district.

“I believe education is a door that once we open it for boys and girls, we can see their lives transform, whether it’s taking them out of poverty or continuing to grow educationally on their journey of life,” Ellis said. “Connecting educators with children or students and those in our community willing to help – together is the way to do it.”

Williams explained, “Being able to help these children understand the power of their voice, enhance their vocabulary and articulate their thought process into an elegant form of speech, gives them a way to communicate for a life skill that’s going to take place throughout their life.

“It’s a life skill and a part of a training technique to get them to another level as they become young adults.”

Part of the curriculum is bringing back some of the basics used a few decades ago.

“I love everything that’s old and bringing it into what is new because I’ve always believed you can learn from our past,” Williams said. “So, I’m incorporating some basic techniques and tools – things that I learned when I was younger – that are still applicable today in the classrooms even though they’re on laptops.”

For one, Williams is bringing in her old dictionary.

“I encourage kids to fill those pages, look up the words and get a real true sense of what it’s like to have what they call an archaic form of an educational tool at their fingertips. What if the electricity or WiFi goes out and you can’t utilize the technology?” Williams said.

“You need to know how to use those books, be able to look up those words do additional research. The old manners of what we had – cross-referencing in textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, Thesaurus, all those different things – help you because sometimes you don’t have your phone, or laptop. So, being able to have tangible books to turn those pages is important.”

Williams is also bringing in a typewriter.

Before computers, she said, “We started with the typewriter and the components of developing the technology to advance to the computer. But when kids use a computer it’s very different than a typewriter.

“And in this day and age, you want to drive home the point of the reason why we’re using the typewriter. When you type on a typewriter, you have to take your time and have patience, understanding and taking your time. Collecting your thoughts and developing word choices and selection because if you make a mistake, there’s no autocorrect.

“It’s not going to autocorrect for you so you want to know what words to use and how to spell them. That’s where the dictionary comes into play. And it makes your thought process a little bit more creative. It makes you appreciate what you’re writing on that piece of paper because you’re taking the time to put it all together.

“And those components play into your critical thinking, and your cognitive skills. And it also makes what you’re trying to say a little bit more elevated and eloquent.”

Williams even brings in an old telephone.

Even if students don’t plan on a career where public speaking is needed, Williams said the skill is important to learn because “when you write, knowing the difference between word choices, selections and how to position yourself when you are typing a memo, an email, makes a huge difference to the way people receive your information and respond to you.

“Ultimately, it can open a door of opportunity or it can shut a door of a possible opportunity.”

Williams said public speaking is a “tool and a component you will use throughout your life, no matter what type of job you get. At some point, you do have to speak on behalf of yourself to clarify something, to straighten up something.”

At the end of the workshop, Williams will give the students the opportunity to write a paragraph on the title subject, “This is Me.”

“They’ll have to stand up in front of the class by the end of the five weeks and share who they are with confidence and learn the techniques of body language, posture, pitch, tone, enhancement, vocabulary and structure of writing a speech,” Williams said.

“I want them to have the inner mechanisms of knowing that they can do this and build their inner confidence to share those unique qualities about who they are as a child in the 5th grade and what they aspire to do.”

She added that teachers are rallying behind this.

“They want this in their classroom,” she explained. “They feel like it’s an asset where the kids aren’t getting this component on a regular basis.”

Williams got the idea by talking with Ellis, explaining, “ I told her about the public speaking workshop I created, called The Junior Public Speaking League. She put me in touch with the individuals in the Chandler School District and the conversation started there.”

Not only does Williams have an extensive journalism background, but she’s now an entrepreneur, using her journalism skills in a unique way. She also has been fighting stage 4 lung cancer as a non-smoker for the last four years.

“I was down to 94 lbs.,” explained Williams. “Cancer spread to my lower spine, my pelvis and the top of my right shoulder. And in the course of 3 1/2 years, I went through everything from radiation to chemo to surgery on my spine.

“But I fought my way back because I literally live my life like I don’t have cancer. I told myself I was going to kill my cancer with kindness and treat it as a positive thing in my life.

“Through all of that, I continue to push and create. I created my own business. I created my own talk show on YouTube. And then I created this workshop because I love and passionately feel that non-profits are the backbone of our community. And through my volunteering with them, it opened up many doors for me to utilize my journalism to help the children in the non-profit community.”

She said it’s important to have a positive attitude. “Never count yourself out,” added Williams. “Stay true to who you are and follow your passion and find your niche. I found my niche working in the community, driving and developing things that really spoke to me and the things I really love…I never gave up on myself and now I’m able to give back