Biography

My first attempt at creating children’s stories occurred roughly 65 years ago, when I told stories to my young siblings. who were seven and five years of age. it was forty-plus years later that I dredged the stories from my early memories and put them down on paper. Guided by a great fondness for children’s literature, my wife and I have spent many hours reading to our three children and, more recently, to our four grandchildren.

Working with children, professionally and as a volunteer, became a big part of my life in the summer of 1966, when I supervised a church recreational center on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. The church and its grounds was sandwiched between the territories of two street gangs. There were probably as many as forty kids between 8 and 16, both male and female, who spent all or part of their days on our playground and in our recreation room, seven days a week, from nine in the morning until nine at night.  It was a rare hour of the day when there were less than ten kids hanging out, usually up-close and personal with me.

I was twenty, at the time, and had completed my sophomore year in college. The objective I had been given by the pastor of the Germantown Church of the Brethren, was to give the kids a safe place to come, keep gang recruiters off the property, and teach the kids what I could.  I was successful in meeting the first two expectations, but with respect to the third, the kids taught me far more than I could have ever taught them.

After two years in the Army, followed by my junior and senior years of college, my first job was as a juvenile probation officer working with kids and families under the supervision of the Juvenile Court. In that role I was successful, with the help of a highly committed boss and eight supportive judges,  in developing a plan to reorganize the probation department into five regional offices strategically placed throughout the community. The program placed probation officers in the neighborhoods where their probationers lived and strove to recreate the same kind of environment I had known on Germantown Avenue, eight years earlier. Our programs received national recognition.  Our focus on helping kids stay out of trouble produced a low rate of recidivism and endured for nearly twenty-five years. Our annual reports about our program won four awards from the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges, the first in 1974.

After nine years in probation, I accepted opportunities to move into executive level leadership roles with that same unified trial court, followed by a multi-specialty group medical practice and 24-hour urgent care center, and an inventory management company in the fastener industry. I also spent ten years as organizational and leadership development consultant serving clients in small businesses, medical group practices, and not-for-profit agencies. Along the way, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Peace Studies from Manchester College in 1970, a first Master’s degree in Psychology, in 1974, from the University of Saint Francis; and a second Masters in Public Affairs from Indiana University, in 1984.

At various point throughout my career, I served on the Board of the Martin Luther King Montessori school for pre-school children; was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne, where I also volunteered.  I served as Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Indiana Correctional Association; attended Leadership Fort Wayne where I served on the board of the LFW Alumni Organization; served eight years on the Board of Managers of Byron Health Center, a county-owned 500-bed long term care facility, serving terms as Chair of the Finance Committee and then President. I was also co-founder and President of the South Side Business Group of Fort Wayne and Allen County. From 1990 through 1997, my wife and I owned and operated a Karmelkorn Shoppe franchise, in a local shopping mall. For five years I coached little league baseball for eight to twelve-year-old kids.

In 2002, when I opted to phase out my consulting practice to devote time to writing, I worked part-time as a substitute teacher in the elementary, middle, and high school classrooms of a diverse urban school district with six high schools and feeder-schools. There I had an opportunity to walk in the shoes of public-school teachers. I subbed until the end of the spring semester of the 2011/2012 school year. Finally, during that same period, I worked, part-time, as an Interim Test Administrator for the United States Military Entrance Processing Command, an arm of the U.S. Department of the Army, administering the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to high school students and recent graduates who were prospective enlistees in any of our nation’s military services, and also, to high school students as part of the Department of Defense’s Career Exploration Program,  I served in that role until May of 2019, at which time my wife and I relocated to Cape May, New Jersey

In 2002,  based on my experience as administrator of a multi-specialty group medical practice and 24-hour urgent care center, I self-published a book, Radical Surgery: Reconstructing the American Health Care System, through FirstBooks Library, in which I proposed a new healthcare delivery system to replace the health insurance industry without reliance on socialized medicine.

In 2007 I was successful in retaining the services of a literary agent to represent me in seeking publication of my novel, Light and Transient Causes, a story about what could happen if the American people became so frustrated with their government they elected outsider to the Office of President of the U.S. based on his promise to restore peace and prosperity, at any cost. We were not successful in finding a publisher, and six years later I self-published the novel, through Amazon.com’s CreateSpace and Kindle platforms. Who could have envisioned what transpired in 2016.

In 2013, through CreateSpace and Kindle, I also published two non-fiction books. The first, with the title The Difference Is You; Power Through Positive Leadership, was based on the many Positive Leadership seminars I presented to client companies and through the Continuing Education Program of Indiana-Purdue University of Fort Wayne.

The second was a book on public education, titled, Reinventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-First Century America. This book, in which I introduced the first version of an education model designed to transform public education in America,  was based on my experience of walking in the shoes of public school teachers, as a substitute.

All four books are available for sale at Amazon.com in paperback, and the last three are also available in Kindle format. I am also author of the blog, Education, Hope, and the American Dream with over 300 articles on education and leadership that can be found on my website at www.melhawkinsandassociates.com.

Finally, I am nearing completion of my second book on public education, with a working title, The Hawkins Model©: Education Reimagined and will be seeking a literary agent who handles books on education.