Alumni Spotlights

Renee Coates-Smith, '91, Publishes First Book

January 20, 2012

Renee Coates-Smith, '91, is a busy woman ”” educator, lecturer, consultant, and television producer. With the publication of Bobby's Secret is Out, the first in the Bobby Jones Children's Series, she adds author to that list.

Bobby's Secret is Out, a book designed for fourth through eighth graders, encourages youth to identify and use their hidden gifts and talents to benefit their communities. It is inspired by the life of Dr. Bobby Jones, host and executive producer of Bobby Jones Gospel, one of Black Entertainment Television's longest running and most popular shows.

“I want youth to not suppress their great qualities because all gifts and talents are needed worldwide,” Coates-Smith says. “I have met youth who were afraid to expose their great abilities and that really bothered me.”

Coates-Smith also serves as president of Imani Productions, LLC, a company that provides educational services in reading education through conferences, workshops, and consultation. She says she has a passion for children's literature and helping teachers to really know and understand their “calling” in the classroom. Many of her workshops address literature and the African American student.

Dedicated to promoting diversity, Coates-Smith produces The Renee Show on Community Access Television Channel 2 in Erie, Pa., a program that focuses on global education and culture. She also serves on the board of the National Association of African American Studies and Affiliates, a national scholarly organization that advances diversity through research projects,scholarly papers, artistic offerings, and conferences that provide African American, Hispanic and Latino, Native American, and Asian perspectives.

As a board member, Coates-Smith was provided the opportunity to visit China. She lectured in Beijing for two weeks each in 2004 and 2005 before deciding to live in that country to experience its culture firsthand. In 2006, she moved to Zibo for three months, where she taught contemporary college English at Shandong University of Technology.

“The highlight of my educational experience was stepping into the first classroom where Confucius taught his first students,” she says. “Also, I traveled to Shanghai, Jinan, Quindao, and other places, and got a chance to see the Great Wall, Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Buddist temples, Yellow River (where Confucius is buried), and many, many other great sites. I am very grateful for the ruitful friendships that I have established there.”