GEM in Action
Benjamin Edmondson Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Benjamin Edmondson Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer
How do you define success for yourself?
Success is being a great model for my boys in all aspects. I choose honesty over discomfort and try to show my children how this works and ensures inner peace. I also set goals, reflect on them periodically, and do my best to accomplish them.
What inspires you?
I enjoy reading classics, particularly those written during the Civil Rights struggles. Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and more recently, Nathan McCall are authors that I have enjoyed and from whom I have drawn inspiration. The struggle is still relevant and real.
What’s an example of how failure in your life resulted in something great?
Divorce is traumatic. I was traumatized. My boys were traumatized. Friendships impacted. Friendships suffered. Friends lost. After year 5, I started to get clarity and made better choices and decisions, which provided more positive outcomes. I am in a great place now and in a remarkable, deserving relationship. Maturity and perspective have great impact on choices.
Tell me about how parenting school-aged kids impacts your approach to advocacy.
I believe my experiences in the field of education BEFORE I had my sons has impacted my approach to advocacy. I had 12 years in education before my first son was born. I had worked as a teacher and then as a principal before getting my own parenting opportunity. These learning and career experiences before having children were invaluable. I have always involved my sons, Pierce (born 2003) and Harris (born 2007), in my advocacy work. I consistently encourage them to advocate, first, for themselves, as no one can champion your cause better than you. We know that ADVOCATE is a verb and thus requires action.
What expertise or passion do you contribute to GEM?
I add perspective as a leader in public education. I enjoy connecting research to practice. I use my creativity to drive practice, as I believe the status quo is society. Fortunately, the Millennials are challenging historical and current beliefs and inspiring me to believe that our work can be a difference maker. My experience as a successful educator for 28 years fuels my passion, delivery, and expectations.
How has your education and career experience prepared you to be an ACE (Advocate, Consultant and Educator) for the GEM Group?
I have served as an elementary teacher and a middle school math and English teacher in urban, rural, and suburban environments. I have been a principal at all levels K-12 and served as a superintendent of schools in similar demographics. I have long worked in areas that were geographically suburban but demographically urban. As the nation grapples with shifting demography, we are equipped to lead the discussions and planning.
How would the rest of the GEM team describe you?
Visionary (noun), decisive (adjective), determined (verb), supportive (adjective), driven (verb), aware (verb), compulsive (adjective).
What is a current or past challenge that you have overcome or are working to overcome?
As I have gained wisdom, I have also gained a new perspective. Trying to give up old habits for new opportunities is always a challenge.
What fun fact might others not know about you?
I am a two-time, back-to-back fantasy football champion in my AT Any City Get Busy League and two-time champion in Winning is My Forte League. Equally as surprising is that I CAN swim, water ski, and hunt. I cannot dribble a basketball with ease and certainly not with my left hand.