Encouraging words from Radford faculty shared with supermodel

Frederick Engram Jr., Ed.D.

Frederick Engram Jr., Ed.D., has some encouraging words of advice for parents who are working – and perhaps struggling a bit – to educate their children at home while schools across the United States are shuttered as a result of COVID-19.

“Be kind to yourself and grant yourself grace,” the Radford University adjunct professor in the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences said. “It is okay to not have all the answers and to not feel guilty when this occurs.”

Engram also shared the words with Tyra Banks last week. Yes, that Tyra Banks.

Engram and a group of educators from around the United States participated in a Zoom call with Banks. She liked the idea of digitally gathering top-notch educators to glean words of wisdom about teaching her 4-year-old son, York.

Engram was the only person among the group who was a university faculty member. The others were K-12 teachers and administrators, and one was a higher education staff member.

So, why and how did Engram get an opportunity to talk about home schooling with Tyra Banks?

The “Why” is easy to explain: Engram is a well-respected authority on education in the U.S. with several years of higher education experience in various roles. Before joining the Radford University faculty in the fall of 2019, he worked in the Office of Graduate Studies and Research at American University in Washington, D.C., as an assistant director of Admissions at Utica College in his hometown of Utica, New York.

As for how Engram became involved, it was a long-time friend who thought he would be perfect for the role.

“My dear friend and a fellow educator Nick Ferroni – and K-12 in New York City – thought it would be an amazing idea to surprise hardworking educators across the country,” Engram said. “Nick is amazing and stands on the front lines of teacher advocacy.”

Ferroni asked Engram if he was familiar with Tyra Banks. “Most certainly,” he replied.

“I'm a millennial who grew up during the time of super model Tyra, “Higher Learning Tyra,” and “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Tyra. She is an African American legend!”

While Engram knew he would be talking with Banks, the other educators were genuinely surprised. In a TV news story about the Zoom meeting, you can see smiles of surprise on the other educators’ faces. In the clip, Banks praises the educators for the extraordinary work they do every day.

“I am so happy that you guys are getting the respect you deserve right now,” Banks said to the educators. “I am a mom of a four-year-old. It’s hard out here. I don’t know how you guys do it.”

Banks stated that “without a doubt, others will see how important education and educators are,” Engram said. She also shared a story about her favorite teachers and how they inspired her, Engram recalled. 

Apr 24, 2020
Chad Osborne