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Young Speakers Academy Grows Hearts and Minds

Eli Farwell has been a gifted speaker for the academy. PHOTOS PROVIDED

By Jasmine Willis

The highly respected program that teaches students how to speak well is expanding.

Robert Babcock, Young Speakers Academy founder strives to help students develop perfect public speaking skills. This unique program focuses on homeschool and public-school students throughout a wide area. The main class is taught in Rochester at The Homeschool Academy. There is a class coming to Elmira at the end of September. There is a class being taught in Alexander in mid-September. Several libraries have taken interest in holding a class next month as well. There are ten inmates from Industry that are getting this program as well.

This program is designed, produced and used by experienced teachers. It has been proven successful in many learning standard areas- such as, Career Development and Occupational Studies, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Performing Art standards. Evaluated in urban, rural, suburban, private and home schools, the results have proven the same. Meeting the national core curriculum standards, as well as New York State learning standards, this course produces successful students ranging from major achievement classes, to regular classes and special needs children, as well as integrated grade level classes. 

Babcock said working with the students in all walks of life is an important part of the program.

“I have 10 inmates from Industry who are just kids. They were sent there for doing dumb things, and not having any direction at home. I let them be part of the VFW Contest. They get to write their own speeches and have to record the audio to be sent into the contest,” he said. “I enjoy working with the Alexander students. They have some very smart kids. I am going to be working with homeschooled kids in Elmira. I have some adults who have spoken about wanting to be part of the academy, so I am reaching out to libraries about that.”

Right now, there are 30 students at The Homeschool Academy, sixty students at Alexander, and the ten inmates in Industry.

“I want children to get out there and learn how to speak well,” Babcock said about expanding. “I want to get the word out about this program. There are a lot of contests available. When these students compete well it looks good on their resumes.”

Sarah Thomson had been with the academy for years and is now nearly done with college. PHOTOS PROVIDED

Babcock added that a lot goes into this program. Young Speakers Academy has a book that goes with the program, which offers great insight into several speeches, research skills, listening skills, examples of speeches, and how to achieve anything with the right tools.

“I would like to bring back the Dansville and Wayland Rotary Club contests. They haven’t had them in a long time if they had them at all. I know the Dansville and Wayland American legions haven’t had them in a while. I would like to bring contests back to rotary, legions, churches, and the VFWs.”

Often people think that the city students are the ones who have a higher advantage and win all the contests. Babcock said that in many cases the small-town students are winning and succeeding in these contests. Some city schools don’t even take part in these kinds of programs.

Babcock mentioned how he once taught at a city school and the students showed no respect for the teachers.

“I had a tough time teaching the city kids. They had no respect for teachers. I hear there is a strong need for these students to have this type of program. I would like to have them get involved, but they need to learn to respect the teachers,” he said. “When I have someone teach this program it doesn’t matter what group they are. They need to each tell about themselves and what they are all passionate about. They need to acknowledge the teacher and fellow students in the room.”

Deja Simmons gave many gifted speeches for Babcock. PHOTOS PROVIDED

Babcock is working on starting a debate class at the academy as well next month. He is planning on competing in the nationals. This would mean that the academy would be representing New York.

“I am going to teach a debate class and make sure they know the definition of terms. I have a Homeschool Club and a Debate Club with 12 students. We are going to get involved with the National Debate Association -STOA. We are going to be representing the state, so we need to make sure we are all good,” he said.

Babcock is making public speaking come into play like the minor leagues with more contests and building better champions.

Kenyon Carlson has a lot of passion for speeches. PHOTOS PROVIDED

Robert Babcock, public speaking coach and author, has received numerous accolades from various educational and political groups for his work in oratory. These awards include those from the Mentoring Roundtable, the Committee for Educational Development and the New York State Legislature. Having served as a teacher in the Rochester City School District for over thirty years, he developed several award winning mentoring programs for students within the Rochester business community and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

He also had numerous students win awards in public speaking competitions throughout Western New York. Babcock has recently chaired the Livingston County Oratory Contest for the American Legion. He serves as Area 15 Governor for Toastmasters International New York State Southern Division, conducts public speaking courses at Rush-Henrietta Middle School and at Big Flats Elementary School, at the Livingston and Steuben County Jails as well as at the Wyoming Correctional Facility (prison) in Attica, New York. Mr. Babcock has been a key-note speaker at several major conferences including the Northern Allegheny School District (PA), and has run many workshops including those for Toastmasters International and the New York State Association of Incarcerated Education Programs, Inc.

To learn more about the program visit http://youngspeakersacademy.orgIf you are interested in getting involved contact Babcock to get details about the classes. The academy is reaching out to more students in the local communities and Livingston County.

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