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“Lots of mistakes and incredible rewards”

Welcome to Mini WaysYahoo Lifes parenting series about the joys and challenges of parenting.

If you think about Jesse Williams’ career, his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on Gray’s Anatomy or his Broadway debut as Darren Lemming Get me out can be top of mind. But one of the Chicago native’s most formative career moments took place not on a screen or stage, but in a classroom.

After graduating from Temple University, Williams taught English and African and American history in the Philadelphia public school system, a decision inspired by the “lifesaving” impact school had on him as a child, which he describes as a “turning point in my life.” to live’. to exist.”

“The role school can play in giving you access to move your life in a certain direction and believe in yourself has always stuck with me,” Williams tells Yahoo Life.

And while high school classrooms in Philadelphia are miles away from Broadway stages or Hollywood sets, Williams says there are many parallels between his past work as a teacher and his current role as an entertainer.

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“You’re holding the attention of a group of people who don’t necessarily want to be there and getting them engaged with a story or story or bits of information and making it apply to them,” says Williams.

These skills have also trickled down into his parenting. The father-of-two, who shares 9-year-old Sadie and 7-year-old Maceo with ex-wife Aryn Drake-Lee, says his years as an educator have taught him how to convey information in an age-appropriate manner.

“Those are skills that directly apply to parenting and keeping people safe and informed and giving them useful information while being able to communicate ideas that are applicable both now and in the future,” says Williams.

Still, he says he’s sometimes less strict in his approach to parenting than he expected.

“There are certainly things that I probably would have expected to be stricter and clearer about, but turned out to be a little bit more malleable,” he says, attributing much of that to children’s innate ability to persuade.

“Young kids know how to try to manipulate,” Williams says, adding that this is a testament to their autonomy.

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“You realize you’re talking to an entire individual, educating and creating a safe space for an entire individual. They’re not just sponges to be poured into. They have their own identities and preferences, and learning styles and feelings of self and awareness, says the Only kills in the building star. Learning how to talk to his kids in a way they receive has been quite a learning curve, one he compares to a “tricky, continuous classroom I’m always in.” There have been “many mistakes and incredible rewards” along the way.

And while his current day-to-day life looks very different from his time as a teacher, he still ensures that children have access to accurate educational information.

In March, Williams launched Homeschooled, an educational trivia app focused on black culture and history. It’s an educational tool that he says is needed now more than ever, explaining that traditional history-based education and trivia often exclude contributions from marginalized communities.

“We made the decision not to exclude black and brown people, and the working class, and women and LGBTQ members of our past and present communities,” says Williams.

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Having two school-aged children helps keep his “finger on the pulse” of the real concerns young people face, drawing on his ability to find new ways to speak Unpleasant them instead of bee them.

“It’s easy for us as parents to preach to people younger than us. But what’s coming? What’s effective? And what’s not?” says Williams. “That changes all the time, so you have to stay fresh.”

And as his own kids gear up for another year of school, Williams is teaming up with Crest and Oral-B to “close America’s smile gap” this back-to-school season, explaining that oral health is especially important for “young kids and students .”

“Having confidence in their appearance and their smile and the quality of their teeth, that has a huge impact,” says Williams. “That sense of confidence has a direct impact on your mental health [and] physical health, as well as your academic performance and social confidence.”

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