Shaun Derik – Being T.H.E.R.E

On February 18, 2021, Shaun Derik presented for parents and students as part of the Glenbard Parent Series (GPS) and Live Life Well Week. Zooming from Harlem, New York, Derik is a Youth Engagement Strategist with several years of experience in organizations such as R.E.A.C.H. Communications, Youth to Youth International, and various other development groups. He emphasizes the importance of a parent’s role as an educator throughout the GPS event, and in his book, Being T.H.E.R.E.

Before the presentation, the audience was urged to interact with Derik since he was used to the electric atmosphere created by hundreds of students and teachers for his in-person performances. It also rallied the audience to engage with Derik. For example, whenever a relatable phrase, thought-provoking quote, or comedic skit resonated with the audience they would type “BARS” in the chat. Other interactions with the audience included responses to humorous multiple-choice questions and quick answers to celebrity or pop culture references.

Derik starts his presentation by addressing the acronym of T.H.E.R.E, five ways parents can ensure that teens make the most positive impact with their lives. The letter “T” stands for “Being Thoughtful.” Derik uses the example of giving his niece a mid-year Christmas celebration and summarizes thoughtfulness as a mixture of love and creativity.

Afterward, he goes on to describe the letter “H”: “Being Heard.” Derik describes H with “to be heard you must speak the language but to hear you must know the language.” Shortened phrases such as LOL (laugh out loud), OMW (on my way), IDK (I don’t know), and many other terms permeate text chats and online messages. Especially in an era where abbreviations dominate teenage communications, parents have to understand the language spoken to effectively communicate with their children.

Although “E” is the next consecutive letter, Derik decides to jump ahead to the letter “R” and leave the middle “E” for last to highlight the takeaway from his presentation. Ironically, “R” stands for “Being Wrong.” Specifically, “Is it wrong to break rules?” Micheal Jordan is the perfect example of when it is okay to break the rules. For example, Jordan was fined thousands of dollars for wearing non-NBA-approved sneakers to his games. Instead, he would wear his brand-name shoes which would later become a billion-dollar empire. Jordan also inspired other celebrities to follow in his path and open their brand name merchandise. “Being Wrong” is the fine line between revolutionization and recklessness. It is the parent’s responsibility to support the right decision when their child is “Wrong.”

The last “E” is “Being Enough” because every person has the tools and skills required to be themselves. Derik reflects on his childhood experience to exemplify “Being Enough.” He struggled in school to the point where his teachers had to hold him back a grade level or put him ahead a grade level so he was on the same grade as his peers when he failed. Yet, his talent and love for music overcame any of his academic downfalls and doubts. A part of “Being T.H.E.R.E.” as a parent is using the wealth of experience and knowledge gleaned from being a teenager. Know that being yourself is the only requirement for “Being Enough.”

Finally, the middle “E” stands for “Being an Example.” A metaphor of jumping into a pond encapsulates the idea of “Being an Example.” Find a comfortable height to jump into the pond, and then “decide to make waves or ripples.” Ensure that actions taken by parents or teenagers will leave an impact. Whether that impact is everlasting or short-lived is dependent on the magnitude of the action.

Overall, Shaun Derik masterfully implements comedic effect, motivational stories, and 23 years of experience to inspire the audience to be T.H.E.R.E. Choose to leave behind a legacy for future generations, and make memorable memories along the way.