Chandler entrepreneur goes ‘old school’ with kids

By Melody Birkett

Fifth grade students in the Chandler Unified School District have been learning the art of public speaking for about 30 days under a pilot program.

“In some ways, public speaking is a lost art,” said Instructor “Diva” Danielle Williams, Entrepreneur and owner of Diva Strong Media, LLC, who teaches three classes in three schools.

“When it comes to the younger generation, talking is on the back burner because technology has replaced emojis, different symbols and text messages,” said Williams. “There are fewer words. Language has a completely different meaning. And the art of conversation has changed and it’s not an eloquent way we speak anymore.”

Chandler Councilwoman Christine Ellis recommended the program to the district.

“I believe that education is a door that we can open for boys and girls to change their lives, whether it’s lifting them out of poverty or continuing to grow educationally throughout life’s journey ,” Ellis said. “Connecting educators with children or students and those in our community who are willing to help – together is the way to do it.”

Williams explained, “Being able to help these children understand the power of their voice, improve their vocabulary and express their thought process in the form of elegant speech, gives them a way to communicate for a life skill that will be held throughout their lives. .

“It’s a life skill and part of a training technique to take them to another level as adults.”

Part of the curriculum is to bring back some of the basics that were used a few decades ago.

“I love everything that’s old and bringing it into something that’s new because I’ve always believed that you can learn from the past,” Williams said. “So I’m incorporating some basic techniques and tools—things I learned when I was younger—that are still applicable today in classrooms even though they’re on laptops.”

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For one, Williams is bringing in her old dictionary.

“I encourage the children to fill in those pages, look up the words and get a real sense of what it’s like to have an ancient form of educational tool at their fingertips. What if the electricity or wifi goes out and you can’t use the technology?” Williams said.

“You need to know how to use those books, be able to look up those words do more research. The old habits we had – cross-referencing in textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses, all those different things help you because sometimes you don’t have your phone or laptop. So it’s important to have tangible books to turn those pages.”

Williams is also introducing a typewriter.

Before computers, she said, “We started with the typewriter and the components involved in the development of technology to progress to the computer. But when children use a computer it is very different than a typewriter.

“And today, you want to drive home the reason that we are using the typewriter. When you type on a typewriter, you have to take your time and be patient, understanding and taking your time. Gathering your thoughts and developing word choices and selections because if you make a mistake, there is no correction.

“It won’t automatically be right for you so you want to know what words to use and how to spell them. That’s where the dictionary comes into play. And it makes your thought process a little more creative. It makes you appreciate what you’re writing on that piece of paper because you’re taking the time to put it together.

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“And those components affect your critical thinking, and your cognitive skills. And it also makes what you’re trying to say a little louder and nicer.”

Williams even brings in an old telephone.

Even if students don’t plan on a career that requires public speaking, Williams said the skill is important to learn because “when you’re writing, you know the difference between word choices, choices and how to position yourself when you’re typing a memo, an email, it makes a big difference to how people receive your information and respond to you.

“Ultimately, it can open a door of opportunity or it can close a door of possibility.”

Williams said that “public speaking is a tool and a component that you’ll use throughout your life, no matter what kind of job you get. At some point, you have to speak up for yourself to clarify something, to straighten something out.”

At the end of the workshop, Williams will give the students the opportunity to write an article on the title topic, “This Is Me.”

“By the end of the five weeks they will have to stand up in front of the class and confidently share who they are and learn the techniques of body language, posture, pitch, tone, improvisation, vocabulary and speech structure. ,” Williams said.

“I want them to have the inner mechanisms to know that they can do this and build their inner confidence to share those unique qualities of who they are as a 5th grader and what they are to make a request.”

She also said that teachers are rallying behind this.

“They need this in their classroom,” she explained. “They feel it’s an asset that the kids aren’t getting this component regularly.”

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Williams got the idea by talking to Ellis, explaining, “I told her about the public speaking workshop I created, called The Junior Public Speaking League. She put me in touch with the individuals in the Chandler School District and the conversation started there.”

Williams not only has an extensive background in journalism, but is now an entrepreneur, using her journalism skills in a unique way. She has also been battling stage 4 lung cancer as a non-smoker for the past four years.

“I was down to 94 lbs,” Williams explained. “Half the cancer to my lower back, my pelvis and the top of my right shoulder. And during 3 1/2 years, I went through everything from radiation to chemo to surgery on my spine.

“But I fought my way back because I’m literally living my life like I don’t have cancer. I told myself that I was going to kill my cancer with kindness and treat it as a positive thing in my life.

“Through it all, I keep pushing and creating. I created my own business. I created my own talk show on YouTube. And then I created this workshop because I love and feel passionately that non-profits are the backbone of our community. And through my volunteer work with them, it opened a lot of doors for me to use my journalism to help the children in the non-profit community.”

She said it’s important to have a positive attitude. “Don’t count yourself out,” Williams said. “Stay true to who you are and follow your passion and find your niche. ​​​​​​I found my niche working in the community, driving and developing things that spoke to me a lot and the things I love… I never gave up on myself and now I am able to give back.



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