MILLTOWN, NJ - The Joyce Kilmer School will become part of the Rutgers New Jersey School Transformation Climate Project in 2019. The fourth through eighth grade school was accepted into the Rutgers University program which is designed to help schools promote a positive environment inclusive to all students last year. Participating schools work in conjunction with Rutgers University over a three year period to build a welcoming climate and culture which is accepting to the entire school community.

"As participants in this project, Joyce Kilmer received a $2,000 grant that has allowed the school to bring in a motivational speaker," explained Joyce Kilmer Principal William Veit. "Mr. Brandon Lee White will be meeting with all grade levels throughout the day as he takes students through his Own It program."

White will hold his first presentation at the Joyce Kilmer School on Friday, January 4.

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"This program is designed to inspire students to make more positive choices by looking at themselves and others in a positive way," Veit continued. "Mr. White works with all students to promote their social-emotional skills including relationship building, responsible decision making and self-social awareness. All members of the school community will be participating in the program."

White is an author and motivational speak who struggled with a disability as a young child. Born without the ability to speak, White battled depression for years. His "Own It" program focuses on his journey from being a social outcast at school to being elected student-body president and encourages tweens and teens to "overcome the tough, achieve the tough and become tougher because of it." White speaks to both students and adults, working with many school districts and organizations throughout the nation. He has appeared on TLC, Discover Health and FitTV as well as hosting podcasts. White attended Rockhurst University, receiving degrees in business and psychology.

Representative from the New Jersey Department of Education will also be on hand Friday for White's first visit to the Joyce Kilmer School.

"The overall goal of the event is to build student leadership skills by guiding them to identify and use their own strengths to benefit them and to help relate to and lead their peers," Veit said.

White will headline two keynote assemblies for Joyce Kilmer students and staff on Friday before hosting a special training workshop for students in the Joyce Kilmer School Leadership Corps. In the afternoon, sixth through eighth grade students will have the opportunity to take part in an interactive workshop. The workshop features a personality test and accompanying activities which include ballroom dancing.

"With social emotional learning being on the forefront of current educational topics, Joyce Kilmer is proud to be bringing this contemporary assembly and program to its students," Veit said.