Nycole Lyles-Belton teaches special education at the Uptown Complex School in Atlantic City, has a doctorate in education and preaches at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Atlantic City. She also writes and performs rap music and just recorded her first music video, for her song "4-Eva."
The song is about falling away from church at college in Virginia, then finding her way back. She said it combines her love of music, developed in the choir at Atlantic City High School, and her Christian values.
"I want to show it to middle and high school students before they get ready to go to college," said Lyles-Belton, 35, of Pleasantville, "so they'll have an idea of what may happen if they get on the wrong path, and how long it can take to get back on the right one."
She moved to Atlantic City in 1990, as a freshman in high school, when her father, Bishop Dr. James Washington, became the pastor of New Shiloh Baptist Church. Married to Jomo Lyles-Belton, she has three brothers: Shannon, 22, of Atlantic City; Aaron, 35, of Egg Harbor Township, her music producer who runs Kreamery Music Inc.; and Anthony, 38, of Atlantic City, who is autistic and inspired her to be a special education teacher.
She also self-published a book, "30 Days to Greatness" about overcoming obstacles in life, she said. It is available on Amazon. Her music is available at "nycolepw" on YouTube.
Real men read
Veteran teacher Marilu Corradetti Bicknell wanted to help the boys in Glassboro's Thomas E. Bowe Elementary School embrace reading. The 55-year-old resident of Glassboro and North Wildwood has been teaching basic skills for six years.
"The majority of my students are boys. They do not like reading. They'll tell you they'll take anything else," she said.
Inspired by the American Library Association posters that showed famous people reading, two years ago she started making posters showing local men with books and a simple message: "Real Men Read."
To date, 45 men have agreed to be subjects, including teachers and administrators, a soldier, town officials, school maintenance men and alumni such as football player George Johnson, of the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. The men attend events where they talk with students about reading.
This year, 45 reluctant readers signed up for a summer reading club, she said, up from 15 last year. On average, basic skills students improved 1.2 grade levels in reading last year, said sixth-grade language arts teacher Andrea LoCastro, of Glassboro. And at the end of the year, the boys each get to be on their own poster. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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