Curtis Valentine is an educator. An educator at home, for his peers, and within his community.
Currently he is an At-Large Member of Maryland’s Prince George’s County Board of Education, the 17th largest school system in America and second largest in Maryland. In addition, he is educating his community of male peers through the Male Educator Network of PGCPS, which he founded, and the #FatherhoodForum. If that wasn’t enough, Curtis is an Adjunct Professor of American History and Government at the Prince George’s Community College where he founded the PGCC-to-Morehouse Pipeline to support community college students to transfer to Morehouse College.
And while these roles may have him serving his community, his biggest role is at home. Valentine is the father to two children, a son, Curtis, and daughter, Ivy. Valentine is a constant supporter for his children and family, through their times of need — even if it includes doing his daughter’s hair.
In an interview with theGrio for our #ThisIsBlackFatherhood series, Valentine shares how fatherhood has changed him, the biggest lessons he’s learned, and the impact his own father has had in his life.
What year did you become a father?
What is the name(s)/age(s) of your child(ren)?
Curtis M. Valentine (9) and Ivy Valentine (7).
What does fatherhood mean to you?
Fatherhood means responsibility, accountability, commitment, consistency, and unconditional love to me.
Has fatherhood changed you at all? If so, how?
Fatherhood has inspired me to become more engaged in my children’s schools and community. I became a School Board Member and founded the #FatherhoodForum movement after becoming a father.
What’s the biggest lessons you’ve learned since becoming a father?
Fatherhood is a 24/7 commitment that requires me to be a walking example of the man/husband my son should be and the husband my daughter should seek out. Children value the consistent presence of a father more than anything. I may not always be my best self but if I’m present I’m halfway there.
What’s the difference between a father and dad?
I use the terms interchangeable, it’s important that men understand that making a child and being a father/dad are not the same thing. The #FatherhoodForum is committed to training and supporting fathers who need positive examples of parenthood. We don’t have nearly as many men mentoring and engaging in the lives of our children and it’s important that we don’t wait for the situation to be perfect to be engaged.
Did your father have a big presence in your life? If so, what were some of the lessons that you learned from him, that you put into practice once you became a father?
My father and I spoke daily until his death and he gave me the foundation for what it meant to be an engaged father. My father taught me how to be vulnerable [he was not afraid to cry], he taught me how to love [he was very affectionate to me, my sister, and my mother], he taught me how to fight for children and to be silly as well, and he taught us to keep our family connected to distant relatives and connected to our homeland in Bracy, VA. I also had a number of men in my community (e.g. coaches, barbers, fathers of friends, church members, Uncles, etc.) who also set examples for what an engaged father looks like. Today, I am just as silly, protective, emotional, affectionate, and connected to family as my father was for us.