Jeremy Gregg

3-time TEDx Speaker | Social Entrepreneur | Author of "Daddy's Time Out"

A Poem for Mr. Rodney Walter, Upon His Retirement

Another of my fellow teachers at Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, TX, Mr. Rodney Walter has retired after a lifetime of service to the school. In his latter years, he served as the archivist and historian of the school, gathering photos from its early decades and cataloging them for posterity.

Poem for Mr. Rodney Walter

Who gathers up the dust of dreams,
of memories left beside the road?
Who sweeps them neatly in a box
and seals them with a father’s kiss?
Who places them, now wrapped and neat,
on shelves our future selves will see
and pull back down, to open up,
revealing truths we left to find?

Who knows that all we hold most dear
is nowhere else than here, at home?

Oh precious friend, who guards our heart,
what service you have rendered long!
May God, who graced us with your art,
now lead the swan of this: your song.

A Poem for Mrs. Greenfield, Upon her Retirement

One of my fellow teachers at Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, TX, Mrs. Jackie Greenfield is retiring after 24 years of service as an English teacher. Though it ages me to share, I am honored that I was one of her first students at the school. 

A Poem for Mrs. Greenfield, Upon her Retirement

From fields of green, she emerged as a light
that lit the very stones we walked;
orange no more, they gleamed with a glow
that strengthened us with every step.

Her lightening laugh, her glimmering eyes,
they raised our hearts above the din
of teenage howls, of raged delight,
of all the tests a school can hold.

A dozen years, and a dozen more,
seem such a brevity to dance
beside a sprite whose spirit sings
with every breath, at every chance.

And yet, although we watch her go,
we know that she will never part:
our verdant vale, our Wacky Jackie,
your living was your greatest art.

My latest talk, “Why Prisons Aren’t Air Conditioned”

In some ways, I have spent a decade working on this 5-minute talk.

That work began in 2007, when my friend Pam Gerber introduced me to Catherine Hoke (then Catherine Rohr), the founder of The Prison Entrepreneurship Program, as well as Chris Quadri, a graduate of PEP. That meeting forever changed the course of my life…

(As do most introductions from Pam, and most meetings with Cat and Chris!)

Within a few weeks, I had recruited my friend Baxter Underwood to join me in my first drive to Bryan, TX, where we would volunteer in PEP’s Business Plan Competition at the Hamilton Unit. Within a few hours, I found myself not only giving feedback on business pitches … but laughing, dancing, and even weeping from the testimonies of men like Marcus Hill, who graduated from PEP that day. Today, Marcus is the lead recruiter for PEP, and he remains one of the spiritual rocks upon which I can ceaselessly rely for guidance, encouragement, and the occasional much-needed smack across the back of my head.

I soon joined PEP’s Dallas Advisory Board, where I served until I joined the staff in 2012. Although I left the position three years later, I remain a volunteer and advocate for the organization. I have also since volunteered at Youth With Faces, a nonprofit that serves incarcerated youth … and which is led by my dear friend, Chris Quadri, whose personal testimony is what started me on this journey in the first place.

The journey has culminated in this talk that I gave earlier this week at Ignite DFW 6. The format itself was challenge … 20 slides that automatically rotated every 15 seconds. So, forgive the pace at which I speak; the talk was unofficially sponsored by Red Bull.

NOTE: I learned after the talk that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has air-conditioned pig farms, but not prisons. How’s THAT for priorities?

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