Tre Hadrick, Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy

This month's Counselor of the Month is actually not a high school college counselor. Ernest "Tre" Hadrick, III, is a guidance counselor at Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy, a middle school in Norristown, Pennsylvania. But one of his priorities is encouraging the students at Eisenhower -- many of whom would be the first in their families to attend college -- to strive for a college education.  Such students have a different timetable for the college application process -- they must be extremely purposeful as early as middle school. And in Tre Hadrick, they have a lot of what is needed to achieve the goal of a college education -- a mentor.

Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy serves 532 students, who are predominantly African American and Latino, in grades 5 through 8 -- 75% qualify for free lunch programs. And Eisenhower also happens to be Hadrick's alma mater.  He went on to graduate from North Carolina A & T State University where he played football and earned a Master of Education in elementary and secondary school counseling at Wilmington University.

A recent Philly.com article chronicled Hadrick's road back to Norristown, the place where he felt it was time to step up and make a difference.  For six years, he counseled youths at the Montgomery County Youth Center.  But he wanted to return to Eisenhower --  in particular, he wanted to prove that "kids from Norristown could do well."  As a long-term substitute guidance counselor at the middle school, he starts early getting students familiar with schools -- Villanova and Syracuse and Penn State -- so that they know college is about more than March Madness or Bowl games.  He recently spearheaded a program where school staff wear college t-shirts every Friday to increase college awareness among the students.

Quick to credit his own parents for his eagerness to make a difference -- his father, Ernest C. Hadrick, Jr., a community activist, and his mother, Bonita Hadrick, a retired teacher and counselor -- last year he took his plans for change a step further. Bringing along a number of student athletes he grew up with, Hadrick founded Norristown Men of Excellence (NMOE), now numbering 40 volunteers who act as mentors and resources for the community's girls and boys -- and their families.

When he's not working with the Eisenhower robotics team or walking his 125-pound Italian mastiff or following the sport he's still passionate about -- football, of course -- Hadrick is at home with his wife, Duperly. They're expecting their first child this summer.

We are honored to feature his important advice for students as our Counselor of the Month.

 

Who has most inspired you in your life?

The people who have inspired me the most in my life are my family, Dana “Binky” Johnson (my high school basketball coach) and the people of Norristown, Pennsylvania. All these people share one common trait: a drive for excellence.

What is your motto?

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid" - Albert Einstein
I believe everyone has a purpose in life, and at times it takes a special person to help bring it out.

Why did you become a counselor?

After working six years in a juvenile detention center as a counselor, I knew that I wanted to do counseling but in a different setting and I decided to seek employment in school counseling. Also both of my parents worked in the field of education -- my mother is a retired elementary school counselor and my father, a high school counselor. Seeing their impact on people’s lives added to my decision to enter this career.

What is your best advice for students?

I tell students “Never Give Up On Your Dreams”.

How about parents? What advice do you have for parents? What are some of the do's and don’ts for parents?

The positive support of parents/guardians in a student’s educational experience makes a world of difference. My advice for parents is to always ask your child how their day was , email your child’s teachers once a week to monitor your child’s progress in class, and lastly try to NEVER miss a parent-teacher conference.

Do’s

• Stay positive when your child struggles with their schoolwork.
• Praise your child’s positive efforts, not their grades. The more parents praise their child’s positive efforts, the harder a child will work and dedicate themselves in school and the results will usually be higher and better grades for the child.
• Encourage your child to read articles, books or summaries that they will enjoy. “Reading is the Foundation of all Learning.”

Don’ts

• Never tell a child what their dreams should or should not be.
• Never hesitate to ask a question of a teacher, counselor and/or principal regarding your child’s educational experience.
• Never allow your past experiences to hinder your child’s future.

What should a student do if she thinks her counselor does not like her or doesn't fully appreciate her gifts?

If a student believes a counselor does not like her/him, ask your parents to set up a meeting with the counselor, the parents and the student.

What is the one thing a counselor should never do?

A counselor should NEVER break confidentiality. (Unless of course the information is such that it could cause harm to befall the student or another person.)

What is the most important thing a counselor can do?

The most important thing a counselor can do is teaching a student these two words: “I CAN.”

What do you think is the most important thing for families to understand about the college process?

The college process does not start in 12th grade in high school. The process starts when a child is born. Parents should invest in a 529 Plan (savings plan) when their children are born. This begins the process of gearing your child toward higher education. Parents also should expose their children to different universities as early as possible.

What are the favorite books on your counseling shelf?

My favorite counseling book is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey [paper | Kindle]. I actually have a few good movies on my counseling shelf too. They are as follows:

Coach Carter
Dangerous Minds
Freedom Writers
Lean on Me
Remember the Titans
Stand and Deliver
The Great Debaters
The Pursuit of Happyness

What web sites do you find most valuable for students and families?

Collegeadmissionbook.com
Collegeboard.org
College.gov

What is the biggest mistake you see students make as they think about college?

I think the biggest mistake students make when thinking about college is focusing on only one university orcollege. If the student happens to not be accepted to that particular higher institution of learning, s/he needs to continue to apply to other colleges and possibly start their college experience at another college and then transfer to the school that was their original 1st choice.

What is your single best piece of advice for young people aspiring to college?

Network while in college. Get to meet as many people as you can. Your network will be your net worth when trying to find a job after you graduate from college.

Is middle school too early for students to start thinking about college?

I think middle school is the perfect time for students to start thinking about college. At my school, Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy, 5th through 8th grade, I started an initiative this year by asking universities and colleges from all around the country to donate T-shirts to our school so our staff can wear them on dress-down Fridays to promote college education.

How is the college application process different for students who come from homes without a college-going culture or from homes where they would be the first to attend college? Is there a different timeline or do they need to approach the application process differently?

No, the application process is not different for students who come from homes where they will be the first to attend college. They must apply just like everyone else, they must take the SAT and have the right GPA, and they have to apply to those colleges before the deadline. But since this will be the students' and parents/guardians' first experience with the college application process, I would suggest they start the process earlier rather than later because the process can be very time-consuming.

What is your best advice for families on the subject of financial aid?

I suggest that families use financial aid to their advantage to help with the cost of college and also realize that the funds received from loans must be repaid eventually.

When you think of deans of admission you admire, without naming any names, what are the qualities you admire in them?

When I think of deans of admissions, I think of someone who explains the program of studies that you are about to engage in, does not hide the challenges that await you while you attempt to complete your degree and lastly, reassures you that you are here for a reason and are more than capable of completing the task of attaining your degree.

Which Common Application prompt would you choose if you were writing the Common App essay?

If I were writing the Common App essay, I would choose this prompt “An individual(s) who has deeply impacted him and why”. I would explain how my two grandmothers, Edith L. Hadrick and Dorothy M. Roberts, had such a strong impact on my upbringing as well as success in life. I would also address how neither of them completed high school but stressed the importance of education.


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