it Down: Camby
is the Principal of the Future
play Jeopardy. And, the answer is: “one.”
The question? “How many professional basketball players want to
become high school principals?”
When seven-foot tall New York Knicks center Marcus Camby expressed
his towering desire for future employment in the field of education,
the first reaction had to be “you can’t be serious.”
But, no. He is serious. And, he’s not kidding.
at all,” said the customarily low-keyed Camby, while nodding for
emphasis in the emptying post-game Knicks locker room. “I was
in high school in Hartford, Connecticut, I was growing up without
a dad in the house and in need of a role model. My principal,
Mr. Frank DiLoretto, was always there for me. What impressed me
about him was he was kind, knowledgeable, involved, and caring
to the good kids—of which I was one, I think—and the not so good
Camby added, “Mr. DiLoretto helped so many young people grow up
the right way. I want to emulate that.”
Only 27 years old and just entering the prime of his basketball
career, Camby has already done that. While a superstar at the
University of Massachusetts, he would regularly go to elementary
schools in the area and tutor students in math and geometry.
Upon joining the Knicks three years ago, Camby adopted Harlem’s
PS 194 as his “home school.” First he was Principal for a Day,
now he’s more like Visiting Principal for Life, dropping by every
other month. He has donated books, book-bags and school supplies
and he has organized an essay contest (providing all the prizes).
Camby performed guard duty on the playground and even helped with
the renovation of the school library.
NBA is like a dream,” says Camby. ”But, becoming a principal has
been my second dream all along. This school here, well…this is
reality. And, I like to be grounded and live in reality.”
Camby even got the school’s former and current principals–Sandra
Small and Nina Powell–to become his mentor. “I need 15
credits to get my degree in education,” said Camby, who left college
during his junior year to join the NBA. “So, I’m taking those
courses at UMass online during the basketball season.”
And, Mr. DiLoretto? They named a school after him–the DiLoretto
Magnet School for Communication and Technology in New Britain,
CT–in recognition of his accomplishments in education. Today,
Marcus Camby stands as not only the tallest, but also one of the
most outstanding of those accomplishments. #
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