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Author Steve Pemberton Teaches the Value of Grit and Resilience to Jesuit School Students in Philadelphia

The Gesu School and St. Joseph's Preparatory School recently partnered with the Maryland Province Jesuits to bring best-selling author Steve Pemberton to Philadelphia on March 27, 2018 to speak with more than 1,000 students about his life story and the value of developing soft skills such as grit and resiliency.

Orphaned into foster care, Steve Pemberton was abandoned and betrayed by his caretakers. Against all odds, he prevailed, demonstrating incredible grit and resiliency for a young boy. Pemberton went on to hold c-suite positions at Walgreens and Globoforce, and published a best-selling memoir, A Chance in the World, which was recently adapted into a major motion picture.


Author Steve Pemberton captivates his audience from St. Joseph's Prep and the GESU School.

“Many people helped me navigate the trials of my childhood so I could achieve the success I enjoy today, so it was especially meaningful that I could help these students along their journey by sharing my story,” said Pemberton. “When faced with difficult times, it is my hope that these students will be better prepared with the skills necessary to push on.”

Pemberton’s story was powerful, but more importantly, his lessons of grit and resiliency were incredibly impactful for his young audience. Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate among the 10 largest U.S. cities, making our inner-city students susceptible to traumatic events that may echo Pemberton’s own story. Soft skills, like the grit and resiliency Pemberton displayed, are needed for a complete education and are imperative for future success. During his talk, he offered good advice, saying “be your best, not somebody else’s” and that "dreams do not require anybody's approval or permission."


With Mr. Pemberton are: St. Joseph's Prep President Rev. John W. Swope, SJ and Gesu School President Bryan H. Carter and (l-r), Henry, Gesu 8th Grader, Susan Martinelli Shea, Gesu School Board Member; Aliyah, Gesu 8th Grader; Kyle, 8th Grader; Chris, SJPrep Senior, and Jabez, SJPrep Sophomore. 

“Many of our students grow up in deep poverty and experience circumstances requiring them to rely upon the same grit and resiliency that Steve displayed during his childhood,” said Bryan Carter, president and CEO of Gesu School. “At Gesu, we’re preparing our students for more than academic success. We want all our children to become successful adults capable of navigating life’s trials. That’s why we’ve weaved non-cognitive skills directly into our curriculum for pre-K through grade 8.”

“Steve’s story of perseverance and triumph is captivating, and one that our students will carry with them throughout their lives,” said Fr. John W. Swope, SJ, '72, President of St. Joseph's Prep. "We were honored to have Steve to the Prep and know that our students have been inspired by his lessons of grit and resiliency."





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