Mother of actor/comedian speaks to local students
Comedian Chris Rock’s mother, Rosalie “Rose” Rock, visited Kernersville Monday.
Rock, an educator and host of the weekly Myrtle Beach, SC radio program, “The Mom Show,” addressed students and parents at Sedge Garden Elementary School on June 10 – the next to last day of school – during the Fifth Grade Celebration.
Rock is a veteran parent. She and her late husband Julius Rock reared 10 children and 17 foster children. The family has roots in South Carolina, where Chris Rock was born, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where the family relocated when Chris was a child. The wisdom of Rose Rock’s experiences is chronicled in the 2009 book, “Mama Rock’s Rules: Ten Lessons for Raising a Houseful of Successful Children.” Rock addressed both the rising middle schoolers and their parents in her remarks. She advised the youngsters to make wise choices about the company they keep.
[pullquote][/pullquote]“Companions are just like elevators – they can take you up or they can take you down, so you be very, very mindful of who you’re hanging with,” she said. “Because if you’re the smartest person in your group, then you’re in the wrong group. Look out for people who you want to emulate.”
Rock, whose book is billed as “a kicky blend of maternal spirituality and a ‘don’t mess with me or you won’t get old’ sense of authority,” told parents to remain vigilant as their children move into middle school and the teen years.
“Your living room is the first and the best classroom. What you teach at home is what they bring into this environment,” stated the former teacher. “You are the first, and you should be the best teacher, but now your job’s going to get harder because they’re going out into another world.”
Rock touted the importance of a sound education, a luxury she says American children too often take for granted.
“Teachers come bearing gifts,” she told the students. “They give us the gift of an education, they give you the gift of a future, if you want it.”
Rock’s visit was facilitated by Elfreida Dixon, a fifth grade teacher who has a special connection to the Rock family.
“I lived around the corner from the Rocks, before they were ‘The Rocks,’” related Dixon, who babysat for Chris Rock when he was a youngster. “They’re a beautiful family… they’re just down to earth, good people. Fame has not affected them at all.”
Dixon says she has remained in close contact with the family, and has marveled, watching Chris, whom she described as a quiet and reserved child, rocket to stardom. A veteran educator, Dixon said she felt Mama Rock’s message would resonate with the audience.
“She is such a brilliant woman,” Dixon said. “And she’s family oriented – she’s all about the children.”
Principal Ramona Warren said she felt privileged to have Rock as a guest.
“I was in disbelief when Frieda Dixon first told me that she would agree to be our speaker,” she said of Rock. “This is something that just doesn’t happen, to have someone of her wisdom and her stature speak to our students.”
Rock was joined onstage by student speaker Theo Howard, a former Sedge Garden class president. Theo, now a freshman at Glenn High School, offered some words of advice to the Class of 2020 as they prepare to enter middle school. He told the students to respect their teachers, avoid negative influences and, most of all, put their schoolwork first.
“I just want all of you to do a great job in middle school,” commented Theo, whose younger brother Jason Redmond is a member of the fifth grade class at Sedge Garden. “Make sure you handle your business … I wish you all good luck.”
Rock, whose eldest child has used his comic wits and acting ability to become a household name, told the students that the future is their responsibility.
“I want you to go out there with vim and vigor with your minds open and your hearts open to be the best that you can be,” she declared. “Success is a decision. You decide right now where you want to be in life – that is your decision.”