Katy Garretson, executive director of the foundation, introduced Rodney Gordy and Larry Buford by reading their impressive biographies. Larry started off the presentation by first engaging the Dreamers in memories of his childhood and of how he became a writer.
Larry writes human interest news articles for various local newspapers and online publications and is listed on the City-Official press distribution list for covering local news events. His services include editing/proofreading, writing press releases, business letters, resumes, photography, one-on-one interviewing, and profiles of public figures. He is also a self-published author and music publisher. Larry showed Dreamers a portfolio of his published articles and instructed them on the importance of proofreading and being respectful of your audience. Most of all, he encouraged them to persevere.
The Dreamers of Daniel Freeman Elementary are in a transitional period of their lives, which can often be difficult. The choices they make now, both academically and personally, can impact the rest of their lives. Larry spoke directly to this difficult period, explaining that he came from a big family without much extra money to spare and was often responsible for taking care of his younger siblings. This weighed heavily upon him as a young adult, and, though he was studious and bright, he often felt depressed. Larry explained that writing down his feelings through songs or in his journal has helped him to overcome obstacles in life. Our Dreamers explained that they too write stories, poems, and jokes to express themselves when things get hard.
After the heartfelt discussion with Larry, it was Rodney’s turn to captivate our Dreamers.
Rodney is the director of licensing at Opus 1 Music, and his uncle founded Motown Records. Rodney has over twenty years of experience in the entertainment industry, with an emphasis on music publishing, creative marketing, and sales. Rodney’s uncle, Berry Gordy, created Motown Records, the world renowned home of Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, and Michael Jackson, among many others. Additionally, and much to the joy of our Dreamers, Rodney is also related to the hip hop duo LMFAO, known for their characteristic “Party Rock Shuffle,” a wildly contagious dance move.
During his presentation, he encouraged Dreamers to listen to their inner voices and spoke about the importance of analyzing what we hear, whether on television, in music, or in daily interactions. He also cautioned them to listen to the people who care about them: “When your mom or your teachers are reminding you to do your work and to clean your room, remember, even though it might seem annoying, what they are really saying is, `I want you to do well.’ ” Rodney also cautioned that the most critical mistake that hinders success is being too afraid to practice something you are unfamiliar with, just because you are embarrassed. Practice is the key, he emphasized, to becoming successful.
To prove his point, Rodney asked one of the Dreamers to help him to learn the signature “Party Rock Shuffle” made famous by the group LMFAO. Rodney explained that, even though he might get laughed at, it was more important to learn and to become proficient than to shy away out of shame.
One of our Dreamers came up to the front of the classroom, the music starting bumping, and the lesson began! The classroom was in an uproar of cheers and laughter. Rodney then invited anyone who wanted to dance to come up for a shuffle contest. The crowd went wild, and we have a hilarious video to prove it.
At the very end of their exciting visit, Rodney pulled out boxes and boxes of gifts from behind a desk for all of our Dreamers. Immediately, the girls screamed in excitement, pulling LMFAO’s signature white sunglasses out of their gift boxes. Our Dreamers were, to say the very least, ecstatic. One of our Dreamers jumped up and down, raising her hand: “Can you please, please thank LMFAO for this?” Our staff members in the field try very hard to instill in these young minds the power of respect and humility. We were very proud of them yesterday.
We sincerely thank Rodney and Larry for their words of invaluable wisdom. Our Dreamers were undoubtedly moved by their candor and impressed by their style.