Thursday, June 15, 2023

Alumni Mr. Tyrone Neal


Tyrone Neal 

It All Started At the Club

Tyrone Neal’s Boys & Girls Club story begins in Meridian, MS living with his mother at Western Gardens. As the sole provider of the family, his mother had to be both parents and made sure she taught life skills in the home. When the BGC of Lauderdale County came to Western Gardens, he can remember Mr. Hood going door-to-door to recruit new members. Since he wasn’t really allowed to play outside in his neighborhood, the Club was a safe place to be a kid and thrive in his community. 

The Club became a way for him to be himself, a safe place to play, and have great experiences that would normally be out of reach. At that time, the Club didn’t have a lot of money but still had fun activities like racing for cookies. The children would go on trips that normally they could only dream about. They always knew Mr. Hood was in the neighborhood because all the children would run after the van. 

Even though, as he got older, he dealt with peer pressure and felt he was an outcast at school. At the Club, he was taught he could do anything he wanted with his life. He remembered a time when he kept it a secret that he loved to read. When he got to the Club, he didn’t have to hide anything. He could explore his talents and find his voice. He maintained the honor roll  but struggled in the 11th grade. Mr. Hood pushed him to graduate. He became the first black male in his family to graduate high school. It was members of the community like Charles Young that also helped him gain real-world experience like conferences. 

After graduation, he earned his AA in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Meridian Community College. Next, he earned his BS in Elementary Education from UWA. After his Bachelor’s he achieved his Master’s in School Counseling and Educational Specialist-Guidance and School Counseling. Currently, he is working towards his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership w/ certification in School Leadership from Holy Family University.

In his 17 years of work in education, he has learned to never get stuck in your way of thinking. He makes sure that he plants seeds in the children, and nurtures them to grow. He believes you have to meet them where they are. We live in a different time from when we were growing up. He always makes sure that he is available to his students. He explains to them that smart choices like who you choose to be around can determine your success. 

With his education and work experience, his life has now come full circle from the small boy at Western Gardens in Meridian, MS. Mr. Neal has relocated to Philadelphia, PA, and hopes to one day operate a non-profit for 1st generation children that need assistance after high school. He also hopes to be a college professor. He is thankful to Mr. Hood for always advocating for the underdog. He will always remember these words from Mr. Hood, “To do everything with a purpose and one step at a time.”

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