HOUSTON – Barry Ward, II was birthed into a loving and well-educated family. He was reared along with his two sisters in Acres Homes’ by his mother. With his father being an engineer and his mother, a college professor at Prairie View A & M University for nearly four decades; the value of education was instilled in him at an early age.
After graduating high school, he matriculated at Prairie View A & M University to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a veterinarian. However, the induction into fatherhood caused him to re-strategize his goals. As such, he returned home and secured employment at Citibank. Though his job performance exceeded expectations, he found that he was unhappy in his role there. Therefore, he was encouraged to start working in the Aldine Independent School District, as a substitute teacher.
Upon becoming a substitute teacher, Ward recognized the undeniable gift of teaching that he possessed. Growing up, his mother noticed the attribute and would always tell him that he would be a teacher. However, he was still amazed of the ability that was dormant within him for so many years; because he had never given it the opportunity to manifest. Nevertheless, he immediately took his certification and professional pedagogy test to become a teacher. After doing so, he promptly began instructing in the classroom.
His first year of teaching began in the middle of the school year. He served as replacement for a teacher who passed away. Through the unfortunate loss, Ward was able to connect with the students and complete a successful term with them. The tenacity and enthusiasm he brought to the classroom soon became apparent. As a result, he was awarded with various accolades during his primary years of teaching. On several occasions he received, “Teacher of the Year” and “Teacher Goes Above and Beyond,” along with other awards.
While performing administrative duties, during his third year of teaching; his superior asked if he had ever considered getting a Master’s in Administration. At the time, Ward being very passionate about his profession, only wanted to be a good teacher. However, his boss encouraged him in such a way, that it inspired him to do so. After earning his Master’s degree, he began his first administrative position in a neighboring district of Aldine. Following, he received a promotion to become the Assistant Principal at the high school level. It wasn’t long before Ward’s efforts were being discussed in regards to the positive impact he was making in the community.
Accordingly, he received a call to become Principal of the Brazos School in Acres Home. Under his leadership, the school increased its enrollment and accomplished a number of other advancements. Throughout his three-year stint at the school, his reputation continued to precede him. As a result, he was contacted by another charter district which recruited him as their Assistant Superintendent. During the same time, however, his mother took ill. He considered both of his sisters, one who was completing her studies at Pharmacy school, and the other who was out of state at the time. Therefore, he made the decision to place his profession on hold and see to the health of his mother.
The Birth of Incentive
After taking into account his experience as a teacher and administrator, Ward could not deny his passion to continue operating as an influential role model in the life of students. Thus, he established a non-profit organization, Incentive. Incentive is a behavioral and attendance-based reward program for students. Although the organization is still in its inception phases, Ward had been laying groundwork for the program for over two-years. Presently, the program has seen much success with its participants.
Leaders of the organization recruit children from local schools and reward students with positive incentives for maintaining good behavior and being present in school daily. They have started with a group of 25-pilot students and have been in the process of celebrating every effort of each student enrolled in the program. Students are paired with five mentors, who donate $40 per calendar school year. Upon graduating, the funds accumulate into a $2300 scholarship; in the process, participants are able to see the funds as they mature.
At the present, middle and high school girls are a part of the organization. The extra incentive for students is the comfort of knowing that the program is not guided by an, academic-based reward system. Students are provided with a wish-list and mentors are available to donate to these lists. This asset is also another incentive to help students remain motivated about their behavior and attendance at school. Incentive mentors never meet the children but dialogue with them through chat and have access to their profiles. It is a safe and productive way to keep students excited about their education.
As an educator, Ward realizes the difficulty that exists for teachers and school officials when students lack a strong support and encouragement system in the home. He explained, “Schools are impacted financial-wise and the overall morale is low when kids aren’t engaged.” Furthermore, he also serves as an adjunct college professor at Lone Star Community College System. He teaches several courses a school year. In them, he educates classes which help to decrease the drop-out rate in the school’s enrollment. While operating in this capacity he has had the opportunity to see AISD from a different perspective. Previously, he was accustomed to students at the elementary, middle and high school level. More recently, he has been able to witness the affects of post-high school graduates. The inability for some high school graduates to read well, or read at all has encouraged him to continue his ambitions for trying to improve his community.
Therefore, he has decided to run for the Aldine Independent School Board Trustee, Position 4. Early voting began on October 23 and will continue through November 3. Primary voting day is November 7. He is hoping to make the final move towards rallying students to get to where they need to be educationally and help fill the gaps associated with social promotion.
Ward encourages members of the African-American community to, “Be the change you want to see.” He is married to Mrs. La’Tricia Ward. They have five children: Barry, III, Tailyn, Brenden, Baileigh and Brielle Ward.
Incentive is seeking mentors to aid in their efforts, if you or someone you know is interested, contact the organization at (832) 304-4161 or email Incentive4kids@gmail.com.
Incentive is a proud member of the Acres Home Chamber for Business and Economic Development, Inc. For more information on upcoming events or how to become a member contact Anthony Stewart at 713-692-1892.