Marcio Donaldson

By Gary Hardie

I love when I find inspiration in unexpected places as I go through my day. Yesterday, I watched a video that moved me to tears and put education and leadership in perspective for me. If you haven’t seen Marcio Donaldson’s American Idol audition, you can watch it here.

Often, life gives us a set of circumstances we did not choose. Our goal is to make the most of what we are given. Whether or not those circumstances are helpful or harmful depends on our perspective on struggle and our grit or resilience. Growing up in underserved communities affords young people incredible willpower in the face of adversity. Specifically, young people who fall victim to generational curses like drug addiction often find themselves at a crossroads when confronted with some of the same temptations that plagued prior generations.

Marcio Donaldson grew up in Compton, California. He lived there with his mother and sister until he was thrust into the system as a foster child when his mother’s drug addiction tore his family apart. He and his sister struggled, but reached adulthood. But like his mother, his sister also suffered from drug addiction. Six months ago, his sister gave birth to his nephew. When she could not care for him, Marcio made a tough decision as police and social workers showed up at his home with a week-old baby. He decided to adopt his nephew for one simple reason; he did not want him to go through what he went through when he was placed in the system as a foster child.

He said, “I don’t want him to go through what I went through.” What would happen if more of us met the barriers and obstacles young people face in and outside of school with that type of conviction? Like Marcio, we can all adopt the children in our care. If not, in the literal sense, as educators and leaders, we can adopt the hopes and dreams of young people and serve as adoptive parents who are committed to ensuring young people don’t suffer through what we did.

Marcio’s story and audition are amazing, and I will be rooting for the hometown hero on American Idol and in his new role as an adoptive parent.

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