The world is now the stage for graduate who overcame behavioral issues

‘What are the keys to success?’ ponders Shamar Green

Shamar Green brings a ladder into the hallway at school. Students passing by know what to do: Climb the Ladder of Success.

“I never thought it would be as big as it is around here,” said Shamar about his news segment of that name, which airs regularly on the high school news channel, Falcon News Network. He stands on the ladder with his microphone and interviews students and teachers, man-on-the-street style. He has many eager participants.

“I just get up there and ask questions about, ‘What are the keys to success?”

(Courtesy photo) Shamar Green participates in a cupcake competition for Falcon News Network

He’s covered topics such as how to be successful at the SAT, how to have an enjoyable Christmas and how to pull off a great Valentine’s Day.

At East Kentwood High School, Shamar is known as a jokester, a fun-loving, energetic student. He graduates May 21 with dreams of becoming a professional actor. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that Shamar decided to channel his energy for the positive. He spent several years constantly in trouble and struggling to find his way.

“In elementary school, it was rough because I don’t think I went to school 10 days straight,” he said. “I couldn’t stop getting suspended.”

Easily triggered and quick to lash out, he was put into a special education program for students with emotional impairments. In sixth grade, he was removed from the traditional educational setting to attend a center-based program for emotionally impaired students.

“My responses were terrible, and it would lead to small things becoming bigger things that would lead to suspensions. … I struggled with low self-esteem at times, and a lack of coping skills and strategies.”

Shamar’s mother, Jaquise Brazil, was constantly trying to help.

“My mother was always looking for me to get help,” he said. “She really made an effort to make sure my mental health was strong and good. She always stuck with it. I never felt like she would quit on me.”

(Courtesy photo) Shamar Green performs in ‘The Music Man’

Considering the ‘Grand Scheme of Things’

Shamar remembers the incident in ninth grade that led to his turning point. After being kicked out of class for fighting verbally with other students, he tried to get back into class to get his backpack. “I was kicking the door to get back in,” he said. “There was glass on the door. I kicked the glass and I broke it.”

The resulting two-week suspension extended into winter break. “That whole month I was in my room, in a funk. I was trying to figure everything out,” he said. “I was like, ‘OK. What do I want out of life? What do I want to be? Are the things that are making me act out really worth it in the grand scheme of things?’”

Once he returned to school in January, “things started to go in the right direction.”

His reflections coincided with getting to know two ninth-grade teachers, Alan Freudigmann and Beth Thompson, who spoke words that resonate with Shamar to this day. They took time after school to talk to him.

His natural charm can be disarming, but the seriousness with which he takes his personal growth is impressive. I look forward to seeing what great things he will do in the future; I can assure you it won’t be boring.” — teacher Beth Thompson on senior Shamar Green

“If it wasn’t for those two, I don’t know how I would view myself today,” he said. Thompson told him, “Find something you are passionate about,” Shamar remembers. “That stuck with me.”

Freudigmann taught him to be gentle when reacting to others. Shamar recalled a moment when he asked Freudigmann if he was going to yell at another student who had not completed an assigned task. The teacher said, “When you yell at someone, that makes them want to help you less.”

“Something so small like that has gone a long way for me,” Shamar said. “I try not to yell at people. That helped me with patience.”

Thompson, who had Shamar in her ninth-grade English class, said she noticed him take responsibility. “There are many things I love about Shamar, but one of his marked characteristics has been his willingness to listen and learn about himself. He has always been honest about making mistakes and asking questions about why he was getting a certain reaction or push-back from some people,” she said.  “In my opinion, he has chosen a path to improve himself, which is unusual for such a young person.”

Shamar Green is ‘Climbing the Ladder of Success’

Discovering his Passion

Shamar, who lived outside Kentwood Public Schools’ boundaries, attended a different high school his sophomore year.

He wanted badly to return, which he did his junior year. “It was perfect. It still feels good. I’m so happy to be here. I’m blessed to be here. It’s truly a privilege to be here. There is no other place I would want to graduate high school from. This place fits me like a glove.”

With a better attitude and behavior, Shamar got involved in school. He learned about broadcasting through Falcon News Network and created the “Climbing the Ladder of Success” segment. He performed in the plays, “Don’t Drink the Water” and “Wiley and the Hairy Man,” and the musical, “The Music Man.”

Principal Omar Bakri noticed the transformation.

“Shamar quickly snapped into focus, and began making changes that were evident to all who knew him,” Bakri said. “He was willing to be reflective, and seek alternative patterns and behaviors and responses. Shamar has emerged as an engaged member of the student body. … He is well-connected, and a positively contributing member of the school community.”

Added Thompson: “His involvement at East Kentwood High School with the Falcon News Network and the theater program shows he is willing to take risks. His natural charm can be disarming, but the seriousness with which he takes his personal growth is impressive. I look forward to seeing what great things he will do in the future; I can assure you it won’t be boring.”

When Shamar was suspended he watched TV, he said. “I would just sit down and watch shows like ‘Good Times,’ ‘Martin,’ the ‘Jamie Foxx Show.’

“I fell in love with acting and it became a passion and a dream.”

After graduation, Shamar plans to move to Las Vegas to live with his uncle and audition for acting gigs. His dream job: act in a remake of the 1999 movie “Blue Streak” and a sequel to that movie.

Shamar Green interviews senior Michelle Pham for his news segment

Falcon News Network teacher Geoffrey Westman said he’s seen Shamar mature a lot as he’s taken on challenges. “When he finds something he wants to achieve, he will work relentlessly to achieve those goals.”

Plus, he lights up when he’s on air. “He is very comfortable in front of the camera,” Westman said.

Looking back, Shamar said he is astounded by how far he’s come. “It’s actually unfathomable — that’s the word that comes to mind a lot lately. … I’m 17, but I feel like I’ve lived a thousand lives. I’ve been through many phases and iterations of myself, but it’s for the good.”

Shamar said he wants people to know his story so they can also start fresh.

“A lot of people don’t know these things about me. I want to show people you don’t have to be ashamed of your background.”

He continued: “For anyone who is in a rut or feels hopeless— just stay the course, when I was going through everything. … I always held onto my dream — latch on to some hope and have faith in something. If you have a goal and end game it will be fine.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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