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Episode from the podcastLead. Learn. Change.

Dr. Hayward Cordy - Choosing to Rise Above

Released Friday, 14th August 2020
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Dr. Hayward Cordy, executive director of the Oconee Regional Educational Service Agency in Georgia, and former teacher, principal, and superintendent (2:00)

Hayward’s book, Damaged Goods: Lessons Learned in Poverty, Applied to Life. (3:25)

Large family, sharecroppers, living in intense poverty (3:30)

Surrounded by love and support (4:20)

18 people in one three-bedroom home, with no bathroom (4:45)

No bathroom tissue (5:00)

Importance of personal hygiene, a reflection of who you are as a person (6:00)

Bathing in a #3 washtub – using sunshine to heat the water (6:30)

Newspaper vs. Charmin (7:15)

Things don’t make you – our worth comes from giving back (7:50)

Father was a first-grade dropout and wanted all of his children to excel in school and life (9:00)

Education as the equalizer (9:35)

Report card day (9:50)

A black male, growing up in poverty, brought challenges that had to be overcome (10:20)

Rise above mediocre to move beyond one’s current situation (10:40)

Poverty is temporary and changeable (11:20)

Teaching to the souls of children (11:45)

Soul – thoughts, will, emotions – must be in alignment with one’s goals (12:00)

You are capable, you can be successful, you must persist with your desire to succeed (12:30)

“The bottom rail will come to the top one day” (13:15)

Born a chronic stutterer (14:20)

Standing on the sidelines (15:00)

The power of words (16:00)

Struggles taught me persistence (16:40)

We all have shortfalls – we all stammer at times (16:45)

Race? Who owns the problem? (17:00)

Not letting those who have issues with race define you (17:40)

There are good and bad people – choosing to believe that most are good (18:15)

Dented cans, damaged goods (19:00)

I saw everybody else as perfect, and me as imperfect (20:20)

How value is truly determined (20:50)

I held my view of me in my own hands (21:10)

Diddy Waah (21:45)

“High-minded poor boy” or reminder of big dreams, potential and promise? (22:45)

Grandmother Carrie Lily – a special bond with “Boy” Hayward (23:50)

Making me feel special, among fifteen children (24:30)

Working, fighting spirit, a bastion of hope (25:15)

My mother’s persistence and determination (26:00)

Oldest siblings worked the fields two days each week, and attended school the other three days (27:00)

Able to love all fifteen children with a special love (27:30)

Balanced, skills, and being somebody is based upon what’s in your heart (27:40)

Dr. Mays – always have goals, and set them high (28:00)

Dedication (Hayward’s thoughts), foreword (Dr. Allene Magill) – book excerpts (29:35)

Mentoring others, starting in high school (30:30)

Be for others in their life, what I missed in mine (31:00)

“I didn’t choose…where I was born, or my family, but I can choose my destiny” (31:30)

Reaching the hearts of people matters most (32:00)

First grade teacher Ms. Williams looked beyond the stuttering to see a gifted child (32:10)

Troy Taylor, from the alternative school – from suicide attempts to published author and working in the medical field, serving the underserved (32:40)

French fries – a simple act that changed a life (33:30)

“That’s what it’s about. Changing lives. It’s not about me.” (33:50)

Reginald, in the hallway – one of six godsons who call still Hayward “dad” – a question and a word of encouragement (34:30)

Life was changed – now a successful contractor, and visits Hayward in Wrightsville, GA to this day (35:00)

Ms. Nadine Hunt – the El dog and her approach to life, modeling what Diddy Waah dreamed (36:00) 

“Life is not perfect, but life is worth living.” (36:55)

“Become hope for those who are hopeless.” (37:25)

“I was born poor, I am still black, and I was born a chronic stutterer, but I chose to make life better for myself. It wasn’t easy, but it is possible…The question has to be, ‘How badly do you want to make life better for yourself and for others? We have a choice.” (37:45)

“I am not a victim. I am a victor, in life.” (38:30)

Podcast cover art for Lead. Learn. Change. is a view from Brunnkogel (mountaintop) over the mountains of the Salzkammergut in Austria, courtesy of photographer Simon Berger, published on www.unsplash.com.