CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The course is titled Public Speaking, but with Dr Yardan Shabazz at the helm, lectures have the feel of a live television show where each student is part of a star-studded cast.
Upon entering Room H-12, a backdrop dwarfs the whiteboards at the front of the camera-ready classroom.
Students are warmly greeted at the door as pockets of conversation break out in the room. When it’s time to start the lecture, Dr. Shabazz warms up the class with humor and challenge.
“It’s just the energy he brings to the class; he’s excited so we’re excited to be here with him,” said junior Dasa Finefield.
His recipe for success is simple.
“You have to speak their language and there is a trick. If you can get them to talk more than you teach them, you can run a successful class,” Dr. Shabazz explained.
The debate question of the day was whether final exams should be eliminated?
Like a football coach in huddle, Dr. Shabazz sets up the Xs and O’s for a heated debate.
“Let’s go – let’s go – let’s go,” Dr. Shabazz said as he prepared the students for an exercise in which a coin toss determines who presents the pro side of the debate and who presents the con side of the debate.
He works in the room – Oprah Winfrey Show style – using students who eagerly offer their opinions. “The key is to connect with each student at least once a day. If that means you have to stand at the door, that’s another hack. As they approach, you have the ability to establish this link, and throughout the school day, you must ensure that it is consistent for each child.
At a time when teachers nationwide are under pressure, Indian River students say they are proud to be one of Doc’s children.
Here is a rash of overlapping thoughts from several girls in the class:
“Whatever you want to say, you say it, if you feel like that, you say it; there is no judgment in this class, no judgment at all; I feel so comfortable that I feel like I have another family in this class; we are the closest people; we have a family in this class,” said MiErica Rivera, Brianna Hannigan, Angela Ward and Vanessa Rodriguez.
In class or on social networks, Dr. Sabazz builds confidence. He is also the director of programs for the school’s social networks.
At a nearby studio, Dr. Shabazz served as floor manager for a school-related program.
“Their job, Alexis Johnson and Amir Deloatch, is to provide content for Indian River High School Youtube channel as well as their Indian River High School photojournalism PageInstagramsaid Dr. Shabazz when explaining how social media is used to keep students informed.
And there is even more…
Dr. Shabazz is also the play-by-play announcer for Indian River college football and basketball.
“Dr. Shabazz is an asset to Indian River High School. He continues to build relationships with students in the classroom and outside of the classroom and we are very fortunate to have him here at Indian High School. River,” director Naomi Dunbar said.
Doc’s kids are winning in the classroom and across the region.
They are the 2021-2022 Virginia High School League State Forensics (Public Speaking) Champions. The Region 5A Champion, Super Region 5AB Champion, and Class 5 State Champion.
This year, Dr. Shabazz was named Indian River High School Teacher of the Year. He was voted king of the faculty reunion this year and he was runner-up of the year for the city’s teacher.