I get plenty of chances to travel and lecture about my experiences within the world of business and education. My recent trip to Harvard to do just that allowed me to hear a young author tell his unexpected story...
Troy CLE took to the front of Professor Fernando Reimers' fully packed Harvard Masters class wearing a blue button down Burberry shirt without a jacket, Gucci sneakers, and fitted jeans. An expensive white gold, blue crystal, and diamond piece of jewelry hung from his neck -- an Alonis Medallion -- a piece significant to his work. Needless to say, upon first appearance, Harvard speaker, Simon and Schuster and Random House Young adult novelist, and educator, do not immediately come to mind. But he is without a doubt all three and on a quest to redefine what people should expect from him, and all children, but especially children of color.
Troy held the class captivated from the moment that he began to speak. He opened with a tale of how seeing the classic film The Goonies inspired him to write his first book Marvelous World Book One: The Marvelous Effect. The book is about Louis Proof, who is a super powered teen anointed with an ultimate duty to defend all he knows. It also takes place in East Orange and Newark, NJ and mythical location of Midlandia. Troy could not find a literary agent to help land a book deal and decided to self-publish it. His book became wildly popular and he managed to get ABC News and the former publisher of Simon and Schuster's Books for Young Readers, Elizabeth Law, to come to a reading he was having at a high school in Harlem, NY. Law was so impressed that she gave Troy a six-figure multiple book deal. The Marvelous Effect was re-released in hardcover by Simon and Schuster and Hollywood soon sought the rights to Marvelous World, but CLE decided to delay the film deal so he could retain the rights a little while longer.
CLE explained how he went to NYU to be a teacher and his first novel surpasses the requirements of the ELA Common Core State Standard Initiative for grades 6th - 12th. The book -- The Marvelous Effect -- is based on the philosophy of Kant, Berkeley, Rousseau, and Hume along with the science of Einstein, Lemaître, and Schrödinger. It contains compelling themes, and illustrates over 50 literary terms. Yet, it is infused with the flavor of video games, action films, and music. CLE wanted to use his book as the basis to teach young students all of those elements, how to be critical thinkers, and everything else they might learn in a prep school English class. CLE developed the Marvelous World University (MWU) curriculum to do just that.
MWU became a College Board AP® (Advanced Placement) approved interdisciplinary curriculum that CLE piloted in two separate NYC high schools and proved to raise standardized test scores. All of his students will be attending college and some were offered full scholarships to top schools.
CLE is in the process of moving forward with his hybrid educational/entertainment business model by having his curriculum adopted by entire school districts. Principal Sojourner Welch-David of PS 227 in NY has already adopted a modified version of his program as part of her school's curriculum. He has plans to open an actual Marvelous World University in Orange, NJ for a summer enrichment program. Irvington, NJ Mayor Wayne Smith and Robert L. Bowser, mayor of East Orange, NJ, have both given the written intent to bring the Marvelous World University program to both of their cities.
It was a lot to take in, but after Troy's talk, one of the students said, "That was the best class so far." I fully agreed and find Troy CLE to be an inspiration that has pushed me to do my own writing and think outside of the box. I am a champion for his cause and proud that he is now a friend who I will undoubtedly know for countless more years. Harvard is a place for bright minds like his and I am happy that he was received so amazingly well.
Group shot caption L to R: Professor Fernando Reimers, Troy CLE, Steve Mariotti, Vanessa Beary, Jennifer Green, Dori Wolfson, and Rodney Walker
Troy CLE and the Marvelous World can be found at www.marvelousworld.com.