Finding his perfect path to teaching
As a standout future educator, CJ Clardy is dedicated to teaching special education students
The common saying, “Those who can’t do, teach,” always hits a sore spot for Cametreus “CJ” Clardy.
For Clardy, being an educator isn’t a backup plan. It’s not his fall back choice or his second best option.
Teaching is what he was created to do
“I don’t apologize for wanting to become an educator,” Clardy said, during a panel discussion for the African American Male Statewide Education Summit, which took place Oct. 23 – 24 in Columbus. The conference was hosted by Ohio State's Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male and Champion of Children - United Way of Central Ohio.
The senior, who is majoring in special education in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University, served as an invited speaker for the “Overcoming the Gap: The Challenges and Opportunities of Transition” panel.
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Clardy was in great company. He spoke alongside David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools, Hannah Powell, executive director of KIPP Academy Columbus, and Romules Durant, superintendent of Toledo Public Schools.
“I chose special education because I want to work with students who are considered ‘at risk,’” said Clardy, a Youngstown native. “I see that as an opportunity to send these students back to mainstream classes after we work together to get them on track with reading and math.”
“I’ll be that lifeline that helps them transition back to taking classes with their peers.”
As a standout future educator, Clardy was an ideal candidate for the Robert and Missy Weiler Scholarship. In addition to funding his Ohio State education, the scholarship program offers Clardy supplemental teaching and research experiences with Executive Director James L. Moore III, Distinguished Professor of Urban Education and professor of counselor education.
This spring, Moore took Clardy and the two other Weiler Scholars, Tim Jones and Dalton Maynard, on their first study abroad trip to Brazil to explore educational access and equity challenges commonly experienced among Brazil’s low-income Afro-Brazilian population.
“To see how things were different but also so similar outside of the U.S. blew my mind,” Clardy said. “I saw how race, socioeconomic status and gender impacts the Black youth in Brazil so significantly.”
As an ambassador for Ohio State’s Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male, Clardy also benefits from having a strong support system of diverse peers and faculty. Each year, he takes part in the National Black Male Retreat. The three-day conference explores unity, academic motivation and manhood among a concentrated group of African American males. Students can share stories about their personal experiences attending a predominantly white institution and discuss ways to support the retention of their peers.
“I remember when I was a senior in high school, so young and afraid of what life had in store for me,” Clardy said.
“As a senior in college, I couldn't be more different than who I was then.”
Walking the noble path
“CJ has consistently and unselfishly given his time and talents to enhance the student experience for other African-American male college students,” says Moore.
“He has certainly left his mark at the university and beyond.”
After making such an impact on campus, it’s no surprise that Clardy’s future after Ohio State is just as bright as his time in Columbus.
This fall, Clardy will enter Vanderbilt University’s master’s program in the Department of Special Education. He aims to mentor many more young men to follow in his footsteps.
“I want to see a lot of us, a surplus of black men. I feel that to whom much is given, much is expected.”