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Pastor’s Second-Grade Teacher’s Impact Drives His Educational Outreach

As students excel, “their trajectory can be more positive, where they can go on to do something meaningful because academically, they were ready.”

Berry tells often the story of his second-grade teacher Courtney, who still lives in south Florida. During his childhood, she was his Bible study teacher at Second Baptist Church of Richmond Heights in Miami, Fla.

“Ms. Courtney was not only my second-grade teacher at the public school, but I would see Ms. Courtney on Wednesdays in Bible study.”

As motivation for learning the names of Bible books, memorizing Scripture and telling Bible stories and parables, Courtney offered what Berry calls “Big 60 cookies,” because they came 60 to a pack.

“For us kids, you would have thought those were the double-stuffed Oreos,” he said. “We wanted to master those books so we could get some of those cookies.”

Berry describes his mother Julie Lynette Berry as an “advocate for education” who “has been a positive force” in his educational philosophy, but also credits Courtney as part of the foundation that helped him succeed. He is among the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King International Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, is pursuing his second doctorate degree, and just released his latest book, “Facts About Favor: Principles That Will Change Your Life.”

“All of that’s possible because I had a second-grade teacher who didn’t allow me to be cast aside, but she invested in me,” he said. “And thanks be to God, I’ve been able to touch thousands of lives. But if she didn’t make that investment, I don’t know, my life probably would have taken a different trajectory.”

This article originally appeared on BaptistPress.com.