Knoxville school's Real Talk program offers life lessons before class

Published: Oct. 17, 2017 at 5:33 PM EDT
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A teacher is providing extra curriculum that makes students want to come into school early.

"To help push you, to help stretch you, help you become better than what you think you can become and that believes in you more than you believe in yourself," said Real Talk founder Clarence Swearengen.

That's "real talk" coming from Clarence Swearengen. He's showing students at Vine Middle School that there are people who care.

"I went through a really, really rough time in my life, and Real Talk was one of those things I wish I had back then, so I made it a promise to myself that I would never let a kid go through what I went through in life," said Swearengen.

The program hosts authors, athletes and speakers to come in and encourage students before the first bell rings.

"You can talk to you family and say, 'Guess what I learned today, I have a chance,'" said speaker and former Vol Mark Griffin.

The program is meant to tell students they have a chance for opportunity. Attendance is not required, so students come on their own time.

"I've seen that it can really help people and how to achieve goals," said Matthew Adkins, a Real Talk participant.

Swearengen takes the program beyond inspirational words, bringing smiles to students' faces.

"They're planning on getting me new shoes and new clothes," said Adkins.

"Life is not just about what you go through in life, it's about what you do for others, so to be able to help students like Matthew, he's just one of the few students we do things like that for," said Swearengen.

"It makes me feel excited and grateful," said Adkins.

Swearengen said if Real Talk can change one person's life, he's done his job.

"I always looked at life, if I could just save one of these kids, if I can make a difference in one child's life, that one child can make a difference in someone else's life, and before you know it that cycle continues on and on and on," said Swearengen.

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