Sandy Strong, BU '15, BU '17, at Brenau's South Atlanta Campus in Fairburn, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Sandy Strong: Giving Back

It was the combination of convenience and military-friendly benefits that led Sandy Strong, BU ’15, ’16, to study early childhood education at Brenau’s Fairburn campus, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Today, Strong teaches second grade at Edmonds Elementary School in Forest Park, Georgia. An Atlanta native, he aspires to help the underprivileged children in his community by establishing an after-school boys club.

Sandy Strong, BU '15, BU '17, at Brenau's South Atlanta Campus in Fairburn, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)“There are a lot of social lessons that have been left behind, and I’d like to bring that back for my students,” says Strong. “I would encourage them to read to one another when we’re together or get people to come into class and read to the boys.”

The club also would provide young men at the school with field trips to colleges and teach social etiquette in restaurants and public places. It would require transportation, as many of the children rely on the school bus each day, and it would need volunteers for reading and teaching. Those interested in donating to or volunteering for the boys club are welcome to contact Strong at Edmonds Elementary.

Teaching is a second career for Strong, too, who decided at 22 to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Mark, a naval officer who graduated from Morehouse College.

“I needed to change my environment,” says Strong. “My brother was in the Navy already, so I followed along with him and joined the Navy three years after he did.” Strong became a petty officer first class stationed in South Carolina, Puerto Rico, Virginia and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He stayed in the Navy for 20 years before deciding to pursue a degree. While attending Atlanta Metropolitan State College, he started looking at Clayton State University, Georgia State University and the University of West Georgia to continue his college career. Then a counselor introduced him to Brenau.

“Sandy Strong is the real deal,” says Russell Willis, director of the Brenau Fairburn campus. “It would have been easy for a Navy veteran like him to take a job in the corporate sector making a lot of money. However, he chose the field of elementary education and focuses on improving the lives of children who are placed at risk. He is a true gem and a ray of sunshine in education. We need more men of color like him in the classroom.”

Strong hopes he can help his students the same way Brenau helped him. “Brenau molded me into the teacher I am today,” he says. “And because of that, I continue to grow at being a teacher and educator.”

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