Roberto German 00:00
Welcome to our classroom. In this space, we talk about education, which is inclusive of, but not limited to what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host, Roberto German. And our classroom is officially in session. Hey, welcome back to our classroom. Today I am joined by J. E. Thomas. And we gonna be talking about Control Freaks, a book that she authored that is a fascinating journey through the middle school experience, which, you know, I appreciate as a former middle school principal. So thank you. Thank you for capturing the essence of the middle school mob, as I like to call them. And, you know, why don't we start by you just sharing a little bit about yourself? Let's get to know you. What do the initials J. E. stand for? Let's start there.
J. E. Thomas 01:10
Okay. J. E. stands for Janice Elizabeth. And I've gone by Jan all my life. And so I thought when I was going to write this book, I would just be Jan Thomas. But guess what? There are two that I know of, published authors named Jan Thomas. So I thought, okay, great. I'll just use my initials. Didn't find anybody on Google, put up my author page. There were some J. E. Thomas's as well. So just go with the flow.
Roberto German 01:41
Thank you. Thank you. There's a story behind everything, Right? I wasn't expecting this. I'm like, there must be something tied to the-- her childhood and her family. No, there were other authors with the name Jan Thomas. Thank you for clarifying that. Okay. Tell me about your educational journey.
J. E. Thomas 02:01
Sure. So I went to an urban parochial school from grades one through eight. And then I went to a suburban independent school for grades nine through 12, and then went on to college. I know that a lot of people have had different experiences going from a city school to a suburban school, but I actually thrived at that independent school. And part of the reason was I am an incredible introvert. I mean, you look up introvert on Google, and there's my picture. So I needed a school that had a low teacher to student ratio. I needed teachers who knew me, who knew my strengths, who knew my struggles. And that was just the perfect environment for me.
Roberto German 02:54
That's awesome. That's awesome. And it's good to hear that. It's good to hear the diversity of experiences. I mean, I had a terrible experience in the independent school that I went to. It was a boarding school. It was ninth grade. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. But I transferred to another independent school, a day school, and I had a much better experience there. Overall it was a great experience as a learner. Ended up working there years later. And as an adult I had somewhat of a different experience. But as a learner, wonderful three years of high school.
J. E. Thomas 03:27
Guess what? I also wound up working at the same independent school that I attended years later. Right. But yeah, it's a different experience when you're working, isn't it?
Roberto German 03:39
Yes. Yes. Absolutely. You know--
J. E. Thomas 03:42
Those hours are long.
Roberto German 03:43
Yes, they're long. But it's also the nature of the relationships change, right? Now there's different dynamic. You were my teacher, now you're my colleague. And sometimes, you know, it might be fine. And we click and we connect and there's an extension of the relationship we had. And other times there might be friction because now I'm seeing you differently and I'm listening to the way you're speaking about students, and then it's not landing the right way. That was some of my experience with certain folks.
J. E. Thomas 04:13
Yeah. Yeah. With me, I'm older than you are, certainly, so-- but it-- there were still some teachers that taught me when I went back to work. And one was a lovely woman who did her best when I was a student. She taught dance. And so she did her best to teach someone who is rhythmically challenged. I'll just put it that way. So it was just so much fun to see her again. Yeah.
Roberto German 04:46
So you mentioned that you're an introvert. You're the definition of introvert. So then I'm thinking why authorship? Because authorship, as you know, does require you to get in front of the audience.
J. E. Thomas 04:59
There is that. Yes. So the part of the creative process is very solitary, and that worked really well for me. This whole part of going out and talking to people, I'm adjusting to thank you for being so welcoming and encouraging and bringing my stress level down, my confidence level up. I really appreciate it. This is a learning curve. I'm on a learning curve right now.
Roberto German 05:31
Look at you out here doing a podcast tour and everything. That's not introvert like.
J. E. Thomas 05:36
Well, my career was in communications, and so I spent my career helping other people get in front of the camera and position themselves. So intellectually I know what I'm supposed to be doing. But yeah, it's hard. It's hard. You are making this so easy for me. Thank you again.
Roberto German 06:01
Well, I appreciate your vulnerability because I think other people might find it to be hard also, but it's good for us to model this example. Hey, we're not shy away from the hard things.
J. E. Thomas 06:15
Roberto German 06:15
We'll confront them. And little by little, hopefully, there's more comfort in being able to take on such challenges as getting in front of the public if you're an introvert. So, for my introverted people, for my introverted people, we see you. We see you. But now I wanna transition. I wanna get into the book.
J. E. Thomas 06:38
Roberto German 06:39
All right. So you wrote a book title Control Freaks. Are you, are you a control freak? And if not, where did this come from? Where did this title come from? What did the concept come from?
J. E. Thomas 06:53
So, fortunately, I'm not on any sort of truth modeling apparatus right now, so I can tell you, I can look right in the camera and say, "Control freak, me?" "No, no, no. Absolutely not."
Roberto German 07:07
Fine. Fine. Then where did the concept come from? 'Cause some of these characters are high strung. They had-- I was feeling a little bit stressed out. Little bit. Little bit. I'm like, I need-- I need them to bring it down a few notches.
J. E. Thomas 07:24
So I'm gonna break that into two, actually three parts. So even though I will tell you I'm not a control freak, probably everybody who knows me would say exactly the opposite.
Roberto German 07:38
Ah, Jan. Now it's coming out now.
J. E. Thomas 07:41
Now it's coming out. Yes. Yes. So when I was younger, when I was growing up, my parents set very high expectations. And part of what happens is I tried to control the narrative. I tried to exceed expectations, and that is actually a controlling behavior, I'll admit. Yeah. I-- so that's me. That's me. And then the other part of control freaks is certainly while I was at school, but also because as an author, I like observing people. I could see that kids today are-- they're obsessed with controlling the narrative of who they are. They want to be the thinnest, the prettiest, the buffest, the smartest, the, you name it, the starkest, the whatever. And it's that element of control that I try to infuse into these characters. I think that both middle schoolers and their parents are going to relate to kids trying to control things. And in terms of you being stressed out, yes. That means I hit the nail on the head because I think one of the big challenges for educators right now is when you spend so much time planning something and you envision in your head how it's going to be and how kids are gonna react, and then they get it, and they're just all over the place. So it's kinda like hurting cats. So the fact that you were feeling a little tension there, it's like, great, I got that.
Roberto German 09:23
Yes. Yes. I mean, there was so much going on with these characters, so much going on with these young people in terms of the notion of competition, right? Like competition in all these different categories. You know, you got the arts kids and the sports kids, and the music kids, and the engineering kids, and the math kids. So much competition. And I'm a competitive person. I'm a competitive person. But, I mean, that level of competition, it reminded me of certain boarding schools and what I've witnessed or what people around me have witnessed that have worked at such schools with these kids that are so high strung on being that top in everything that sometimes it's detrimental, not just to the environment, but to them. So that was interesting to think about that and think about like, all right, you know, where can this get unhealthy? But also what is healthy about this, right? Again, as a person who appreciates competition, I used to be a coach, basketball coach, so I get it. But at the same time, you know, I wonder sometimes like, all right, you know, what are we focused on? Why are we so focused on it? How can we help our young people maintain the balance? And so I want you to-- why don't you kinda lean into that a little bit? Tell me-- yeah.
J. E. Thomas 11:16
Okay. That's a really good point. And I don't wanna give any spoilers for the book. I won't do that. But I think at the very beginning, the principal says, we have to learn to work together. If we're going to solve the big problems that are facing us today, we have to learn to work together. And I think his strategy was, "Okay, I'm gonna put this competition." Like he envisioned it. He was going to create this competition. The kids would realize, we have to work together. We have to talk to other people.
Roberto German 11:50
It's gonna be great. Oh, yes. Oh, let's do it.
J. E. Thomas 11:54
Yes. Exactly. Exactly. And as Frederick Douglass said, "Kids be kids." And they just couldn't help themselves. It was just this competitive nature surged out. And again, no spoilers, but--
Roberto German 12:14
Yeah. You know, it felt-- maybe-- and I think the book did reference Lord of the Flies early on, right?
J. E. Thomas 12:21
Which was based on a true story according to Frederick Douglass. Yeah. Yeah.
Roberto German 12:27
Yeah. Yeah. You know, it had some moments where it felt Lord of the Flies like, or Hunger Games. Like, you know, the chaos, right? The chaos of middle school. The chaos as you, you mentioned the term hurting, right? Guiding, leading, facilitating. Teaching is so much work and leading schools, right? The principal had such good intentions. Trust me. I know. I understand what it's like to come into environment, and you're learning the environment and trying to connect with the players while also trying to facilitate necessary change.
J. E. Thomas 13:03
Roberto German 13:04
That sometimes is encountered by resistance even when you have the best intentions. I know. I've been there. So I was particularly sensitive to the principal's experience. And for-- it was a very good idea. It-- you know, it was ideal, very idealistic. But it's a great idea to try to get the kids together, to connect with other people that they don't typically connect with. And yes, to try to, in this case, trying to work together so that they can set a tone for collaborative work and cooperating with each other to solve the world's problems. To solve societal problems, is I think is what-- how it was framed in the book. Tell me, who is your favorite character and why?
J. E. Thomas 13:59
That is such a good question. And I wish I had a really good answer. I don't-- so there are parts of me in every single character. And I guess it's almost like asking, "Well, which of your children do you love the best?" I love them all the same, differently, but the same. And so I don't know. I don't know who my favorite character is.
Roberto German 14:23
I'm not gonna lie. I don't love them all the same. I mean, I love my children. My children all the same, but, I wasn't feeling Richie.
J. E. Thomas 14:31
Oh, yeah. So--
Roberto German 14:33
I wasn't feeling-- you know, I wasn't.
J. E. Thomas 14:36
You mean Richie the enforcer?
Roberto German 14:41
Yes, yes. Richie, the enforcer. Yeah. No, I'm not feeling that. Now, this-- you know, he's a youngster, so there's room to work with Richie and try to guide him. But he was not one of my favorites. I'm not gonna lie.
J. E. Thomas 14:54
It's okay. Richie had a long path. He had a long way to grow. But, you know, there are kids like Richie.
Roberto German 15:04
J. E. Thomas 15:05
In schools. They're definitely the Richie's.
Roberto German 15:07
Well aware. Well aware. A lot of them weren't my favorite either. Just telling you the truth. Some of them came around. Some of them-- you know, I came around eventually. So fine. Then tell me two or three of the characters that resonate with you the most.
J. E. Thomas 15:25
Definitely Doug. Definitely Doug. Because I think he personifies the big theme of the book, which is who gets to decide what you do with your life. And I think that was something that definitely resonated with me. I knew when I was four that I wanted to be a novelist, or I just wanted to write, I wanted to make up stories. I wanted to be a storyteller. And that was not the vision that my parents had for me. So it took a long time. It took a lifetime to get to do the work, the life work that I knew I was supposed to do. And that's why I put that on Doug. He get-- he has to deal with it within, what, 272 pages or so. But I think that's a really big issue. And I really liked Huey because he gets nervous. He writes backwards. I remember when I was in high school my best friend at the time went off to summer camp, I didn't. And I wrote her a letter backwards, like the whole thing. This was back when you're writing. So I liked that. And I was also younger than kids in my class. So Travis the shark.
Roberto German 16:58
J. E. Thomas 16:58
I know, right? Nine years old.
Roberto German 17:01
Does she really bite somebody?
J. E. Thomas 17:05
Maybe that was a school legend. It was never-- we never really resolved that issue.
Roberto German 17:15
Some things are better left as legend.
J. E. Thomas 17:17
Right? Exactly. Exactly. But she did live up to that name, didn't she?
Roberto German 17:22
She did. She did.
J. E. Thomas 17:24
Yes. And I'll tell you one other thing. So I mentioned that my parents had very high expectations for me. I had a gap when I went from my elementary school to high school. There was a gap. But fortunately I was a reader. So I was reading at the college level. My math and science skills needed some work. But my mother believed that every book that we got in school should come home with me. And I had a stuffed backpack that had me hunching over every day, because I had to put every single book, and there were a lot in that backpack, and take it home, and then sit at the table, and she would watch me. "Homework or not open that book, read that book." And so, yeah. I give a little bit of myself to everybody.
Roberto German 18:24
That's great. No, that's great to know. It's also interesting to hear you talk about those expectations that parents set upon their children. I have three young children, so it's good for me to receive this experience that you're sharing and process it as it relates to my own parenting and my children's desires versus my desires for them.
J. E. Thomas 18:52
How old are your kids?
Roberto German 18:53
Eight, five, and two.
J. E. Thomas 18:56
Do any of them know intuitively what they want to do with their lives?
Roberto German 19:01
I'm not sure. I'm curious to listen and see what really comes out. But my eight year old, she's a writer. She's an artist. She's a performer. She has all of that in her.
J. E. Thomas 19:18
Oh my goodness.
Roberto German 19:19
And so I would not be surprised if she leans in that direction. But I want it to come from her.
J. E. Thomas 19:27
That's-- see, that's so good. That's-- you would've been the perfect father in Control Freaks. But now you can put that on your shelf. And anytime you feel yourself lean to something, you can pull it out and say, "Oof, am I turning into Eazy Zesner? I hope not.:
Roberto German 19:45
Yes. I'm sure I have my moments. Just like Eazy did. Eazy had a lot of moments, but I'm sure I have my moments. But I know, I also know what it's like to feel that type of pressure and unwanted pressure.
J. E. Thomas 20:02
Roberto German 20:03
Right? And so I think I'm very aware that my children have to pick their path, and my job is to expose them to as many opportunities as possible and to guide them along the way.
J. E. Thomas 20:21
Roberto German 20:21
And be a good cheerleader and give good counsel. Give good counsel, right?
J. E. Thomas 20:27
Yes. Yes. Yes. And let them fail, because it's scary and it's sad. But I think that's one of the interesting things about Eazy. His heart is in the right place. He wants his kids, his stepson and his biological son to have an easier life than he did. But he's shepherding them down paths that might not be right for them.
Roberto German 20:53
Right. Right. And teaching them certain things that are gonna harm them. They are harming them, you know? Bailing TW out is harming them and teaching him that his brother, it's okay for his-- for Doug to just step in and write his papers. It's causing friction in the relationship, right? There was a lot going on in Control Freak. As it-- this is actually a good segue as it relates to family dynamics, especially blended families that experienced divorce. What led you to develop the storyline?
J. E. Thomas 21:34
So my dad died in 2017, and I was still mulling the whole concept of fatherhood, what constitutes fatherhood. When I started really digging into this book, I wanted to look at it in a variety of different ways, through a variety of different perspectives, but kinda center that on the-- on an African American family. And I was steadfast in the decision that I was not gonna use any of the old tropes of the absentee black father, the violent black father, the, you name it, but non-effective black father. So even though Eazy was divorced from Doug's mom, he was checking the boxes, right? I mean, he sent the support checks. He called on birthdays. He did all of those things. So he was not absent from that standpoint, but he wasn't physically there. It was Doug's stepfather who was there, who put in the time, who did all those things and earned the title of Dad. Having divorce as a vehicle, let me look at fatherhood from two different ways. And then also to look at the assumptions that family members make, particularly in a blended family. So I think Doug's a great kid, but he still calls his stepbrother the worst stepbrother in history. And TW is-- he's an awesome kid as well, but he doesn't show any of his vulnerabilities with his stepbrother. They are not brothers. And so, I just wanted to examine those dynamics. And I think divorce was my vehicle to do that.
Roberto German 23:37
Oh, that was great. That was great. You know, thinking about relationships, when we were talking about characters that resonate with you, and you mentioned Doug and Huey, it made me think about Chris Rock and Adam Sandler.
J. E. Thomas 23:56
Roberto German 23:58
That might feel random to you, but Adam Sandler received an award recently, and Chris Rock was the one that presented the award to him.
J. E. Thomas 24:12
Roberto German 24:13
And in the intro, Chris Rock talks about little bit of the history of the relationship between the two of them and how it reminded him of when he was in high school, or I think it was high school or maybe grade school in Brooklyn. And he was a black kid in a predominantly white school. And there was like this one white Jewish kid that reached out to him and they connected. And there was some similarity there in terms of the origins of the relationship between Chris Rock and Adam Sandler. And they've been friends for a very long time, like decades.
J. E. Thomas 24:57
Roberto German 24:58
And so, you know, when I was just thinking about Doug and Huey and a little bit of, you know, their racial and ethnic background, and then thinking about this tribute that I saw recently, and Chris Rock giving the award to his friend and talking about Adam Sandler and their friendship there was something there that I saw that was beautiful between the two individuals in both cases.
J. E. Thomas 25:24
Mm-hmm. That is such a good point. So I didn't know about that friendship there, but when I was in high school, my best friend in high school is still a very close friend. And we'll just say a couple of decades have passed. We'll leave it at that. But she-- I was the maid of honor in her wedding. She was the matron of honor in my wedding. We've been with each other through marriages and parents passing and a child being born. I mean, it can happen. It really can happen. And I wanted to show that that's also the reason why the relationship with Dr. Ye and the Dom, Destiny Octavia Moore, was so important as well. I just wanted to show that it really can happen, so.
Roberto German 26:28
Yeah. I mean, I think about individuals that I'm still connected to. I have friends that I've been in relationship with since middle school.
J. E. Thomas 26:40
Roberto German 26:41
You know, not a ton them. You know, some of them might be more like associates or distant friends, but I have-- like my friend Chino Wang, Chino Sanchez, we go back since like seventh grade.
J. E. Thomas 26:57
Roberto German 26:58
At the AB Bruce School. I'm the godfather to one of his daughters.
J. E. Thomas 27:02
Roberto German 27:04
You know, so. And we still talk periodically. We both live in Florida now.
Roberto German 27:12
And so I think about the importance of highlighting relationships.
J. E. Thomas 27:20
Roberto German 27:21
And fostering relationships. And the potential to engage in lifelong relationships. And in this particular case, looking at Doug and Huey, I think it's good and important 'cause it shows how these young men can appreciate, love one another, be vulnerable, so on and so forth.
J. E. Thomas 27:43
Yep. Absolutely. Absolutely. And often Huey is the voice of reason. He is a little anxious about it, but he is still the voice of reason. And I gotta point out one thing that I think is super cool. So right now, Chat GPT is the big thing. People are talking about how that will apply in school. If you roll back the clock, since it's usually about 18 months for a book to go from publication to hitting the stores, right? Chat GPT wasn't a big thing 18 months ago. I didn't even know about it. But a cornerstone in this book is that Doug invents a technology that can scan the web, take a prompt, write a paper, and do all those things that Chat GPT does. And so I think it's really important as we discuss whether or not books should be done by AI. To think about, there's some things AI can't do. Like AI doesn't envision AI. It's a human being that does that. So just wanted to put that out there. Cause I think that's really interesting.
Roberto German 29:01
No, this is a critical conversation that's taking place right now. And folks are all over the spectrum in terms how they feel about it. And so we gotta continue to unpack and learn and grow, try on. I'm not fully-- I haven't fully concluded how I feel about AI and Chat CPT and these tools. But they're tools. They're tools and, you know, I wanna learn how to use them and leverage them to my advantage in ways that feel effective and honest.
J. E. Thomas 29:40
Yep. Yep. Exactly. Without losing the skills that you inherently have. I tend to think of it as this way. If you were getting surgery, serious surgery, and the doctor came in and said, "Well, if we use robotics, we can do this surgery much more effectively." You were definitely gonna have-- it'll be faster. You'll have a higher chance of success. You'd probably say Yes, absolutely. But I certainly would say yes, but I would also want a human being in that operating room. So if the system went down, there was somebody who knew what to do. And I think one of the challenges with these tools is that we can become so dependent that we lose the inherent skills ourselves. And that's something to consider.
Roberto German 30:35
True. True. True. So through your writing, you envisioned Colorado's number one school for--
J. E. Thomas 30:41
I did, yes.
Roberto German 30:42
Unusually competitive kids, Benjamin Banneker College Prep. What constitutes the ideal school?
J. E. Thomas 30:53
That is such a good question. Not that I'm a control person, but I wrote notes, so.
Roberto German 31:00
I'm a note taker too, and I don't think that makes me a control person.
J. E. Thomas 31:04
So I won't give my 100 point list, but I will give two.
Roberto German 31:12
Thank you. Thank you for being considerate of our audience.
J. E. Thomas 31:15
But it's available on demand. No, I'm just kidding. So the first thing would be resources. I think that that is super important, and I don't mean just like the snazzy building and the learning spaces with super comfy cushions that I don't-- I don't mean just that. I mean things like the low teacher to student ratio, so the kids know the teachers and the administrators and vice versa. I think that that's super huge. I think that decent salaries, reasonable salaries for teachers is essential. And I think that the top rated school would be able to provide that. So I might have moved them out of say maybe the public school spectrum so that there is some flexibility with salaries. But I think that those are essential if you're going to attract and retain the very best teachers, because teachers work really, really hard. Really hard. It would be access to things like learning specialists and books and computers and science labs and all those things that level the learning field. Let's see. It would be, now this time, I'm really gonna have to down-- look down at my notes here. But innovative ways of presenting the mosaic of the people who enhance the world, who change the world. And so it's a little thing, but if you recall, there are pavers in the school that--
Roberto German 32:56
Yes, with the names of influential individuals.
J. E. Thomas 33:01
Exactly. Exactly. So kids at that school will graduate knowing that John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, but they're also going to know that Luis Walter Alvarez received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1968. And Chien-Shiung Wu worked on The Manhattan Project. And Dr. Patricia Bath was the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology, but she also invented an instrument that enhances cardiac surgery. So I just think finding ways to present that information so it's organic to kids, and it just becomes part of their psyche is important. And then the second important thing is space. The kids at Benjamin Banneker College Prep spend a lot of time outside. And it's nice to get out of the classroom, to breathe the air, to touch the grass, to yeah. To do those things. So those are two things. I hope among your audience are Bill and Melinda Gates, so that they can contact you. We can just create the ultimate school, because I have ideas.
Roberto German 34:25
Yes. Yes. I mean, I want-- listen, I wanna see all teachers across the board, private, public-- I wanna see all teachers get paid extremely well.
J. E. Thomas 34:37
Roberto German 34:38
I wanna see them get paid extremely well.
J. E. Thomas 34:41
Roberto German 34:42
I know what it feels like to be on the grind as a teacher and as a school leader, and have to maintain a second job just to make ends meet.
J. E. Thomas 34:52
Yeah. And which is just not okay because I think society is going to rise based on the quality of the education that the younger generation receives, and we just have to pay people appropriately. That's my opinion.
Roberto German 35:13
Yes. And as it relates to the outdoor time, this is what I appreciated about working in the Montessori school for a number of years, is that we had a lot of outdoor time, and it wasn't just like recess time. It's like the outdoor time was kinda built into the natural flow of the school day. In our school, when I was in Texas, each classroom had their own little outdoor space, or they could go to the deck. Some had-- they had gardens. You know, classroom gardens and whatnot. And so that is-- it is important for our kids to be outside instead of being within the four walls for, you know, almost eight hours a day. Crazy.
J. E. Thomas 35:58
Yes. Yes. Yeah, exactly.
Roberto German 36:01
Like, how is that design a good design for schooling?
J. E. Thomas 36:06
I don't think it is. I really don't think it is. And we talked a little earlier about introverts, and I think introverts need a time where they can just wander off and sit quietly, because just, yeah. It can be a lot.
Roberto German 36:25
Absolutely. Absolutely. So, I, you know, I appreciated that you came with this concept of envisioning what for you is the ideal school. And, you know, part of how we make things happen is by casting vision, right? By casting vision, by engaging in critical conversations, and then obviously moving people towards action, so. Whether it's Bill or Melinda Gates, or some of these other foundations. And we need to have radical vision and then take radical action to create schools that serve the needs of our children today.
J. E. Thomas 37:10
Roberto German 37:11
And the way schools are structured, we're not doing it. It's not meeting the needs of our children. So let's bring about a radical reform and let's dream big.
J. E. Thomas 37:25
Yes, exactly. That's it. Dream big.
Roberto German 37:28
All right. So if you had an opportunity to have lunch with any author dead or alive, who would it be and why?
J. E. Thomas 37:36
So I'd have a little lunch party. Again, personifying control. But so I would have Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asma, Octavia Butler. Let's see, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, am I forgetting anybody? Oh, and Gene Roddenberry. All together.
Roberto German 37:59
J. E. Thomas 37:59
Wouldn't that be great?
Roberto German 38:01
Wow. That's a lot.
J. E. Thomas 38:03
Yes. Yes. But each of them, I think, envisioned what the future could be. And folks like Gene Roddenberry may not have done a novel, but think about how society has adjusted just because of Star Trek. I mean, or Bradberry and Asma and their views of the future. Butler is just a genius. Was a genius. Who I had an opportunity to hear, speak in person once. Yeah. So that would be my lunch party. Your invitations in the mail.
Roberto German 38:39
Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And all I had to do was have you on my podcast. Lovely. Well, I appreciate it because I've heard Maya Angelou speak in person. And so I would love to have a follow up and ask her some questions directly and never had the opportunity to listen to Tony Morrison speak in person, but that would be amazing.
J. E. Thomas 39:04
Wouldn't it be great?
Roberto German 39:05
Oh my. Wow. What a lineup. That's awesome. That's awesome. So, J.E, Jan. What is a message of encouragement you want to offer our listeners?
J. E. Thomas 39:20
I'm actually gonna paraphrase something that you said, which is, "We envision change, and that's how we make it." I think books like Control Freaks are great because you deconstruct them and you figure out what aspects of this school do I really like and how can I make that happen today? What aspects of the community that Doug is part of, the neighborhood that he's part of, can I make happen today? And that's what you start doing. So I encourage everybody, well, obviously I encourage everybody to buy Control Freaks. But also just find the parts of the book that are actionable and just start doing them today. And one other thing, If there are teachers out there or parents out there that have book clubs or who want to talk about this further let me know. I will beam in to you via Zoom.
Roberto German 40:25
That's great. That's great. Well, thank you. Appreciate it. Appreciate this work that you've created and the Control Freaks. I really-- I love thinking about and talking about the middle school experience. And I'm hopeful that a lot of the folks that I'm connected to will pick up a copy and extract from the book things that they could apply to their craft. As I mentioned earlier, I think for me as a parent, there's some stuff that I'm taking away from the book and just thinking about, all right, what are my regular routines and where can I make sure that I'm not leaning too strong in pushing my kids in into the things that I want them to do, and leaving space to hear their voice and respect the path that they want to explore, even if it doesn't always align with the path that I want for them. And so we're building that relationship, you know? Listening to one another me express-- I'm gonna express to them, you know, what I like to see, but also respect the fact that, you know, they're gonna ha-- they're all, my kids are characters, and they definitely all have minds of their own. And so, yeah. Thank you for offering that through the book.
J. E. Thomas 41:48
You're very welcome. Your kids are in great hands.
Roberto German 41:51
Thank you. Thank you.
J. E. Thomas 41:53
Roberto German 41:53
Well, I wish you the best with your journey as an author and with Control Freaks. Love the book. Very, very engaging, and certainly you are welcome to be on the platform anytime. So, Jan, where can we follow you? Those who wanna know more about Control Freaks, wanna know more about you as an author, even though you were an introvert where can they follow you?
J. E. Thomas 42:20
You can find me at my website, which is j.e.thomasauthor.com. You can find me on Instagram, same handle, J. E. Thomas Author. If you want me to come to an event, please contact my publisher, which is Levine Querido. And it's levinequerido.com. L-E-V-I-N-E-Q-U-E-R-I-D-O.com.
Roberto German 42:48
Well there you have it, folks. Go and follow Jan. Pick up her book. Control Freaks is the title. Author, J. E. Thomas. Middle School folks, you're gonna love this one. Trust me when I tell you I saw myself in it as the principal, and so I can relate to Dr. Ye. Read the book and identify which character you can relate to. Check it out today. Wonderful book. Thank you, J. E. Thomas.
J. E. Thomas 43:20
Thank you. Thank you so much.
Roberto German 43:23
As always, your engagement in our classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race bias, education, and society, go to multiculturalclassroom.com. Peace and love from your hosts, Roberto German.