Solomon "Clakkey" Claxton wants to help students on his island home of Saint Kitts and Nevis get a better education. To help make that happen, he came to Adelphi for our master's degree program in educational technology.
Solomon “Clakkey” Claxton wants to help students in his home country of Saint Kitts and Nevis get a better education. He came all the way to Adelphi for our master’s degree program in educational technology to help make that happen.
Claxton, who is now 44, has been in education since he was 18. He worked his way up from substitute teacher to the position of National Examinations Registrar, where he runs the program that administers final tests for students in Saint Kitts and Nevis secondary schools. Yet he realized he could do more for the students.
“Saint Kitts and Nevis needs integration of technology into its system,” he said. But doing that isn’t just about giving laptops to students, he said. It’s also about helping teachers incorporate the technology into the curriculum. Claxton hopes to see technology integration not as an add-on to traditional teaching, but as a merger of the two that creates an engaging learning experience for the students. “I’m very passionate about education,” he says. “I want students to leave the classroom with an experience they will always remember.”
It is that passion that led him to Adelphi in the fall of 2019. He said it is the best decision he has ever made.
“The people at Adelphi didn’t treat me like just another student,” he said. “They were genuinely interested in me as a person. They believed in me and my education. When people believe in you, change can happen. I no longer want to live in my little corner. I want to branch out and effect as much change as I can for others.”
A Tough Balancing Act
Returning to a classroom after more than 20 years in the workplace was challenging. Although he was on a study leave from his job, he was also training his replacement. As a result, he was struggling in his education technology classes, not completing his assignments and questioning his decision to return to school.
“I was wondering if I should go back home,” Claxton said. “Why am I wasting my time? I thought.”
That’s when his adviser at Adelphi—Matt Curinga, EdD, associate professor in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education and director of the educational technology program—stepped in.
“He said, ‘Clakkey, come see me,'” Claxton said. Dr. Curinga could tell that Claxton was struggling and encouraged him to work through his self-doubt.
Claxton is deeply appreciative.
“Coming out of the Caribbean culture, and also being a man, you are not taught to lay yourself bare,” Claxton explained. “I am a solutions-oriented guy, so when I complained back home, people thought I was just venting but already had a plan to resolve the problem. I was always the one who solved the problems, but Dr. Curinga told me I don’t have to have all the answers.”
Dr. Curinga and another adviser, Aaron Chia Yuan Hung, EdD, assistant professor and a director in the Ammon School, helped Claxton focus by encouraging him to get involved in campus activities. Although he had not been to the gym in more than 30 years, he enrolled in the introductory personal training program offered by Campus Recreation and the Exercise Science program. He joined the Chat Around the Globe forums held online by International Services, sessions that he found to be informative and therapeutic.
“It helps to check in with other international students who are going through similar experiences,” Claxton said.
And he took a crisis management workshop, where he learned resilience in the face of stressful situations. “Hurdles happen, difficulties happen, and it’s how you get through them that defines you,” he said.
Panther Proud and Ready to Give Back
His advisors’ support was a turning point. Claxton is doing well in school now and is on track to graduate in Spring 2021 with a master’s degree in educational technology focusing on instructional design. “I feel like a revamped Clakkey,” he said.
He is still in New York, taking online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said his professors check in if he doesn’t post in class each day.
“Everyone saw my potential and identified it in me, so I embrace it,” Claxton said. “I didn’t know my potential, but now I can see it, too. My professors and advisers motivated me to do what needed to be done.”
Claxton is looking ahead to his next steps. He’s studying for the GRE with an eye toward getting a PhD from University of Pennsylvania because it has a highly rated doctoral program in learning sciences and technologies. He says he owes his transformation to the personal attention he got from Adelphi staff—and to the many extracurricular programs offered at the University. And now he’s looking forward to fostering growth in others the way Adelphi fostered growth in him.
“Once I am able to help students on their journey and bolster their educational product, it will be money well spent,” he said of his Adelphi degree. “I will be forever Panther proud and I can’t wait to give back.”