We had the good fortune of connecting with Latrina Cockrell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Latrina, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have been an educator for nearly 20 years and have consistently seen a lack of engagement and/or low performance in African American boys and their writing, speaking and leadership skills and couldn’t figure out why. These elementary and middle school boys were making As and Bs in class, getting satisfactory conduct scores on the report card, and overall, the parents would say these were good kids. Many of these boys came from two parent, middle class households. So why was I seeing low standardized test scores, poorly crafted written and spoken language, and a lack of confidence when speaking? I started to ask more questions. What learning experiences are these boys getting that require them to become fluent readers, writers, and speakers in elementary and middle school? Who’s mining for gold in these boys to require them to dig deeper and be great ? Is it good enough for you to make As and Bs and be good in your neighborhood but not able to compete in the world? There were no satisfactory answers for me so Cool Boys Communicate, Inc. was born. We teach and practice communication and leadership. Our mission is to create experiences that cultivate skillful communicators and leaders. We use the Toastmasters Youth Leadership curriculum as our communication engagement structure and men in the community, and across the globe, to create one of a kind experiences that spark a movement to leadership.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a tried and true educator to my soul. I have taught pretty much every elementary and middle school grade subject there is. I have taught kids that were in a juvenile detention center (and only allowed to come to school for a few hours) to kids that lived in multi-million dollar homes. I have served as an assistant principal and program specialist for a school district that houses over 14,000 employees and 96,000 students. My roots go deep. I’m most proud of my pedagogy and andragogy experiences and successes. When I was teaching students, all my students succeeded. I now teach adults, and they too succeed. In other words, I help people identify what success looks like for them (some may call them goals) and we defined success in the most specific manner possible. We then identify barriers to overcome, create action plans, and engage in learning opportunities that build roadways and bridges to meeting and exceeding the success criteria. This process of helping others succeed comes easy to me and I enjoy the educating and inspiring I get to do along the way. However, my life getting here was not easy. I grew up in Racine, Wisconsin and often the only black girl in the room. If I wasn’t the only black girl, I was the darkest-skinned black girl. That meant, I was overlooked or disregarded. I recall several experiences where I was teased, belittled, or excluded because of the color of my skin. I was smart and had great conduct but no one ever “checked for me”. No one asked about my goals, dreams, or pushed me to be greater than what I exhibited. Sitting there doing my work was good enough for those that were considered to be my leaders. So, that was me; the background girl. It was easier, and felt better, to play the background instead of being called out for what was “wrong” with me. This is exactly what I see today in schools, particularly to black boys, that I can no longer tolerate. Sit there, do the work, be good and you will be ok…is so far from the truth. I want the world to know that black boys, that will grow to be men, have something extraordinary to add to this world and the experiences they get in elementary and middle school influence just how much of that is released.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My best friend and I both live in the Metro Atlanta area and love to get together for fun times. When we plan a girl’s day out, you may see us on the following Atlanta hot spots: Meet up: One of our houses to car pool Stop #1: Breakfast at Egg Harbor Cafe’ or brunch at Negril Village Stop #2: Relaxation at Spa Sydell near Perimeter Place Stop #3: Mani pedis somewhere around time Stop #4: Definitely have to shop at Perimeter Mall Stop #5: Dinner and drinks at Pappadeaux Stop #6: For live music and drinks we must visit Harold’s Chicken and Ice Bar downtown On any given day, we love visiting Dance 411, Pole la Teaz, and Jill Miller Fitness for exercise. We love to dance and enjoy using dance along with hip hop music to help shed the pounds!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to contribute my focus to consistently educate and inspire to my mother and grandmother. I saw grit and tenacity in both of these women and learned to get up and go regardless of what is in front of me. These women’s lives were always about helping and supporting others and that’s what I was born to do. I must shoutout the Board Members of Cool Boys Communicate, Inc. Each of these members heard me out, pushed me, and showed up over and over again to help me realize my vision for the organization. I am so humbly grateful for each one of their expertise and willingness to give back. They totally rock!

Website: Coolboyscommunicate.org
Instagram: @CBCommunicate
Twitter: @boyscommunicate
Facebook: Coolboys Communicate

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