BY JENNY BRONT
SC Staff Writer
Do you remember that one teacher you had in High School that pushed you hard but in the end made you a better person?
Do you recall that teacher who took time out of his or her busy schedule just to hear you gripe about your boyfriend or girlfriend?
Do you have one teacher that you will always remember or that you still keep in contact with even today?
After taking a course with Professor Billy Staples, you can never truthfully say no again.
William David Staples grew up on the mean streets of Philipsburg, New Jersey moving down from Rhode Island.
He participated in sports such as baseball and basketball in high school.
After high school, he threw caution to the wind and spent a couple of years in New York and Los Angeles to give his acting career a shot.
Managing to snatch up a few parts in movies such as “Hairspray,” “Coming to America,” “Gremlins II,” and a recurring role as the Young Lt. Columbo, Staples then left the acting world to pursue a career in teaching.
He earned his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in education from ESU.
His career then took him to teach seventh grade English in the Pembroke Projects of Bethlehem for a considerable number of years.
On his off hours, Staples brought out the inner student of at-risk kids in the Pembroke public housing by tutoring and counseling them, and trying to give them hope that one day a college education will be in their futures.
He was given two nominations for National Disney Teacher of the Year for his efforts.
Further delving into the world of philanthropy and education, he developed a college scholarship group called Building Education Support Teams (B.E.S.T.), in which he gave at-risk children the opportunity to get a college education to better their futures.
The development of this program was featured in a 5 part educational series for CNN. Through this program more than 20 at-risk youths have become first generation college students, and he is currently giving 50 more students the opportunity to get their Bachelor’s Degrees.
His accomplishments do not stop there.
He was the inspiration behind Jack Canfield’s book “The Secret.”
“Billy Staples, the teacher is and was a walking, talking example of ‘The Secret’ before ‘The Secret’ came out,” said Canfield.
Staples got a national deal with the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” publishers to print “Before the Glory” in conjunction with “Chicken soup for the Soul” author, Jack Canfield and co-authored by Rich Herschlag.
The book was ranked as high as 5 on the 10 nationwide in book sales list, and it went into second printing after distributing 50,000 copies.
He also co-authored “BillyBall 2009” with Rich Herschlag.
He has been all over the world to share his inspirational message including giving commencement speeches right here at ESU.
Currently his third book “Before the Glory-a 2nd Inning” is being shipped to publishers.
His goals in the future include a job as a Dean of students, and having the highest graduation rate “in the whole damn college.”
Eventually, amidst his busy professional life, he wants to raise a family and maybe even lose a few pounds.
Aside from his many accomplishments, Billy Staples remains a humble yet passionate educator in the halls of Stroud till this day.
When asked about what drives him Staples responded, “I am sickly focused on my students and being part of getting them where they want to work hard to be. It is an inner drive that is burning in me. I was once one of those kids that teachers helped me get where I got to. I feel uncomfortable with success but I love helping others.”
Staples was also asked to give future teachers advice in which he replied, “Learning plus fun equals knowledge retention.”
He also added that, “In order to be great, you have to give up being good.”
His philosophy, which he puts to use every time he teaches, is that, “No significant learning occurs without building significant relationships.”
Just by reading about his accomplishments it is east to see this man is made of greatness, but seeing him in action completely solidifies this resolve.
From the minute he enters the classroom, he grabs your attention with his animated theatrics, but no matter the initial reaction, it is evident that he means every word he says.
He is an advocate for his students no matter who they might be.
He is that inner drive one has, personified.
He doesn’t do it for the fame or for the glory, instead working for the goods of his students and to make his “grandmother proud of me and my work ethic,” he said.
Whatever the drive, we have it to thank for the numerous possibilities this man has offered our generation and hopefully for generations to come.
If you have the opportunity to take a class with him, don’t hesitate to take it because you will not me disappointed.
It will be the one class you look forward to going to and the one class you will never leave.
He will always be there to support his students of the past, present, and future.
“My job doesn’t end after you graduate,” said Staples.
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