Blog Entry Capacity Building

October 2016 Spotlight: Carlos Johnson, I.M.A.G.E. Of Success

For our October Member Spotlight, CBMA spoke with Carlos Johnson, Founder and President of I.M.A.G.E. of Success, whose mission according to its website is "Helping Schools and Families Engage." A behavioral therapist by training, Johnson's early post-graduate experiences working in various school districts exposed him to a lot of problems with classroom management and parental engagement -- particularly as related to African-American boys -- setting him on a different way of looking at education.

After going back to school and receiving his certification in agenda-based learning, Johnson started working exclusively in school systems that were struggling with their male populations and from there, began to write a curricula on classroom management, forming the foundation for what is now I.M.A.G.E. of Success. Read on to learn more about Johnson's work.


How did you come to launch I.M.A.G.E. of Success, and what does the acronym stand for?

Johnson: I.M.A.G.E. of Success is based on the curriculum that I wrote after working in the school districts, which I began to train instructional staff on with classroom management, and work with young people on setting not only life goals, but behavioral as well as character goals. The “I” is for where am I going on life's trip? The “M” is what's my motivation? The “A” is for the action steps needed. The “G” is for sighting goals. And the “E” is for making excellent decisions.

What size is your organization? How many program staff do you have?

Johnson: It really depends on the time of the year that we're talking about. By and large it's either really me speaking in educational conferences or at faith-based organizations, or conducting a professional development workshop with a school district. However, during certain parts of the year the organization swells to about 60 employees. At that time, we are working exclusively with after school and summer programming. When we're doing summer programs, that's when the organization swells to accommodate those who will be working with us after school and at summer programs.

How does it work? For instance, do you go and deliver a presentation around the curriculum, then from there, you're invited to help train the staff and implement the curriculum into their schools or after school programs?

Johnson: Yes, a lot of what you just described is how I got the word out. I would just present the curriculum or I would train after school. Then people would ask that I come by and it grew that way. Now there's a little bit more organic growth that happens just by speaking at a conference. It's been a blessing that someone may hear what you're saying or like your research and begin to say that this pedagogy or science would work in their school culture.

How do parental involvement and engagement fit in, and why do you feel that they are so important to helping students achieve their goals? 

Johnson: I wish more people would ask that question. For three years I travelled the country working with high performing, high poverty schools. The one consistent theme that I saw with high poverty, high performing schools is that they had a secret sauce that low performing, high poverty schools did not have. That secret sauce was not only quality instructional staff and visionary leadership, but a high percentage of parents who were engaged in the process. It became real simple to me that either the institution had to adopt that it was their responsibility and their weight to educate our kids, or they entered into this agreement -- whether it was on paper or not -- with the families they were serving that said, "Hey, we can't do it alone. We need your help."

If you really want sustainability, then not only do you need to have a visionary in the school leadership positions and quality instructional staff, but you also need to have a high percentage of families in the school building who say “I want to enter into this partnership with you to help educate my child.” 

Does your curriculum factor in cultural competency and if so, how is it integrated?

Johnson: Our Power Parenting University has consistently increased parental engagement and home school collaboration wherever we've gone. It's a systematic process by which parents understand that regardless of their socio-economic status, they can be involved. Schools who follow our steps and implement the programs with fidelity, we see a great increase in home school collaboration.

The next success that I'm most proud of is an all-male academy currently operating in Charlotte, North Carolina called the Male Leadership Academy. Using the strategies that you and I have been talking about, we've been able in a very short time to double their enrollment to help parents in this neighborhood feel that they've got an answer to male learning -- that they don't always have to submit to the over diagnosis of ADD and ADHD. We're offering them a solution and parents are responding very well to it. 

What inspired you to join CBMA, and what ultimately is the impact that you're hoping to have in the movement of Black Male Achievement?

Johnson: It was a no brainer for me to join because I've lived and learned about the “lone wolf syndrome”. I did not want to be the lone wolf out here. It only makes sense to me to join organizations that believe in the same solutions that I do. It was a real easy decision for me to join and to be a part of the solution, because I believe there's power in synergy. 

What are some ways that our members can support your work?

I would really continue to stay plugged into the movement, and to listen and stay motivated by what you're hearing is going on around the country. Johnson

Then call on us to talk about solutions that are working in one area that may also work in your area. It's not always about exchanging fees for work as much as it is just about talking to one another about strategies. Is it nice to have someone call and say we'd like you to speak at a conference or to come conduct trainings? Sure that would be nice -- but it doesn't always have to be that. Sometimes it's just a matter of supporting one another, which is probably even more powerful than exchanging fees because we’re exchanging ideas.

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