- Twitter: #ibelieveinscs
- FB: #ibelieveinscs
“After I retired from pro basketball, I became a school security officer with Memphis City Schools [now Shelby County Schools]. I saw the best and the worst of everything: all communities---rich, poor, in-between---motherless children, fatherless children, all of it. The four years I worked at Hamilton changed my life. People told me, ‘Don’t go to that school. You’re going to have problems. They’ll fight you.’ But when I got there, it was totally different. The administrators and the teachers cared about the students. When they walked through that school doorway, they were treated like extended family. A lot of those kids had been through a lot. Maybe their lights were off at home or they didn’t have anything to eat, but they still got up and came to school every day. I remember being called over to deal with one young man who was upset and angry because somebody told him to pull up his pants. The first thing I said to him was, ‘What did you have for breakfast this morning?’ He said, ‘I ain’t had nothin’.’ So I asked, ‘What did you have for dinner last night?’ and he said, ‘I ain’t had nothin’ then either.’ I got him a little something to eat, and he calmed down. The kid was just hungry. I told him, ‘Now you know you’re going to have to pull up those pants, don’t you?’ He did, and I didn’t have any more trouble out of him. After that, when he’d see me in the hallway, he’d say, ‘Hey, Mr. Best!’ I wasn’t trying to win him over. You do something wrong, I’ll deal with you. But there are going to be fewer issues if you can get to the root of the problem. A lot of these kids just need somebody to care about them. They’re looking for someone who will listen, who will give them a little attention, not judge them and tell them they won’t amount to anything. They need somebody to lift them up. I felt the same way when our family moved from New Jersey to Memphis and I went to Whitehaven High School. I was in the eleventh grade and I didn't know anybody, but the teachers there took an interest in me right from the start, found out what I was good at, and encouraged me. They said, ‘You’re tall and you can play basketball. You’re going to use that skill to get into college.’ I thought, ‘College?’ but that’s what I did. I look at these kids in the schools now, and I see myself in them. I’d tell anybody, Don’t criticize unless you’re willing to help. Go ask administrators, go ask teachers what you can do to make a difference, and then do it. I believe in these children. That’s why I started the #ibelieveinscs campaign. It’s not a school system initiative. It’s something I do on my own, making videos of students and parents talking about why they believe in our schools. What we believe in, we invest in. What we invest in, we believe in more strongly. These are our children. They’re worth it.”
John started his own campaign to promote the Shelby County Schools. #ibelieveinSCS features videos of SCS students and parents sharing why they believe in our local public school system. Click HERE or on the image below to see some of those videos.
John played professional basketball in Europe for more than 13 years. In the 2000-2001 season, he was named the Most Valuable Player in the German league All-Star game. He also played for the NBA's New Jersey Nets before retiring from the pros and moving to Memphis.
John Best, former school security officer and classroom teacher, is a Broadcast Communications Specialist with Shelby County Schools.