Teacher with Jackson family connections wows Roosevelt convocation
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org August 28, 2012 1:42PM
Artist Ronald McDowell of Alabama draws quick portraits for seventh-graders Tervoris Fuller (left) and Kevon Allen, both 12, in their school notebooks at Roosevelt College and Career Academy in Gary, Ind. Tuesday August 28, 2012. When the three Jackson children, Prince, Paris and Blanket did not make a scheduled appearance at the school, McDowell, Michael Jackson's art teacher, stepped in and drew portraits during an assembly. McDowell also illustrated the cover of the Thriller album and Katherine Jackson's book about her son. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 30, 2012 6:15AM
GARY — The surprise guests were no-shows, but Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy principal Terance Little and artist Ronald S. McDowell put on a show for seventh-graders Tuesday morning.
Gary Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chuck Hughes said that Michael Jackson’s children — Prince Michael I, Paris and Prince Michael II “Blanket” — planned to speak with Roosevelt students at an assembly, but shortly before the 10 a.m. start, Hughes received a call that their appearance was postponed due to “security issues.”
“I’m disappointed,” Hughes said. “But we have to try and turn lemons into lemonade.”
Vanessa Ronketto, vice president of operations for the school’s turnaround operator EdisonLearning, said they didn’t tell the students ahead of time who was coming, and teachers and students were in a holding pattern much of the morning. School officials were about to cancel the program when McDowell offered to show the students a drawing demonstration. McDowell has a long connection with the Jackson family, serving as Michael Jackson’s art teacher and illustrating both the “Thriller” album and Katherine Jackson’s latest book “Never Say Goodbye.”
Little spoke to the students about improving their talents by succeeding in school, then he donned a white glove, black fedora and danced across the stage in his best imperonation of the Moonwalk.
Students and teachers cheered and applauded his dance stylings.
Then, McDowell took the stage, assisted by two students. He showed how a simple line or number can become a figure. He turned “5” into a picture of Fred Flintstone, and a simple squiggly line morphed into a curl on Michael Jackson’s head. The kids were engaged, trying to guess what he would create next.
Seventh-grader Zion Muhammad and his two friends enjoyed the presentation so much they asked McDowell to make them a drawing and he quickly obliged.
“He drew me,” Muhammad said. “I thought it was really cool.”
The students behaved well during the assembly, so teachers and students took some time at the end to dust off their dancing shoes, with some taking the stage where Michael Jackson and his brothers first performed as the Jackson 5 in 1966.
“That’s the key; (the Jacksons) were good students and it helped their talents,” Little said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. It matters what’s inside.”