Felecia S. Killings is a quintessential educator and promoter of change, transformation, and innovation within the educational field. Her years of dedicated service to education, and ascribing to the motto that “Learning is a Lifestyle,” has resulted in extensive years of training and preparation in the educational spectrum. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Davis in 2005 with double majors in English and African and African American Studies. She also obtained her Master’s Degree from UC Davis’s School of Education in 2007. She has received preliminary Doctoral of Education course work at Argosy University from 2008-2010; and will complete her Doctorate of Philosophy in Education with emphasis in Organizational Leadership at Northcentral University in Arizona. Felecia has provided her community with five years of service as a public-school English instructor. She has also created educational programs that help minority youth reach their full potential through excellence in education, job training, and college and career preparations. Felecia is also an author and publisher, and founder and CEO of Power, Faith, and Love Ministries, which oversees seven organizations.
Visit the author’s website.
We often wonder what it is like to be a teacher in today’s time. With so much happening in the public schools, it seems any wonder how it is able to function given all the atrocities that go on in the system. But this is the story about a young, beautiful teacher named Felecia Killings. As a child, she dreamt of the opportunity to be what many call one of the most admirable professions in society: an educator. And when her father witnessed this aspiration in her, he did everything in his power to protect it and to ensure that she fulfilled her mission. Yet, like so many countless individuals who enter the public school system, Ms. Killings was met with tragedies and struggles. But through it all, she allowed her faith to keep her strong, even in the midst of hell.
This book is one to be commended, for it takes what we think we know about the public school system and brings to light another side that is never talked about. Through this text, you will learn about the power of unconditional love and personal sacrifice. For every teacher who chooses to stand up for what’s right, even when everyone is against you, this book will minister to you in ways that even you could not imagine. You WILL be inspired.
“You will be a Queen Esther”
The Queen Esther Prophecy
A prophetic word is spoken to an individual to give one a window or glimpse into that person’s future. It serves as a roadmap that outlines God’s perfect course and path for one’s life. When we receive a prophetic word, God always intends for it to be fulfilled in its due time—at the right moment, at the right season. His word never returns to Him empty or unaccomplished. Rather, it comes back to Him, having completed what He desired.
The Bible speaks of a young woman named Esther who became queen of an entire nation. Her beginnings were meek and mild; yet God raised her to become one of the Bible’s most heroic female figures. She was an extremely beautiful young woman, and when the king of the land was looking to appoint a new queen, Esther became that one.
Before she was queen, Esther lived in humble dwellings with her cousin, Mordecai. When word spread around the kingdom that the king had a desire for a new queen (for he had divorced his first one), Mordecai, a worker in the palace, encouraged her to pursue that position. After much preparation, Esther was selected to be among the many handmaids, one of whom the king would later choose to be his next bride. While she lived in the palace, her cousin had instructed her not to reveal the nature of her ethnicity, for she was a Jew. For whatever reason, it was important to him that she did not convey this secret to anyone; and as such, she concealed it.
One day, the king promoted a prominent figure in his kingdom named Haman. As the Bible reads, the king “set [Haman’s] seat above all the princes who were with him” (Esther 3:1). All the servants in the king’s household were commanded to pay homage to Haman and to worship him because of his honor. But Mordecai, who loved the God of Israel, would not bow his knee to Haman. This outraged him, and from that point on, Haman not only hated Mordecai, but also made himself an enemy of the Jewish nation.
Out of his anger and frustration, Haman conspired to destroy the people who would not bow to him, and he convinced the king to sign a decree that would annihilate the Jewish people. As the Bible reads, “[Jewish] laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain” (Esther 3:8). After the king heeded Haman’s request, he agreed to the decree, and Haman made haste to kill the Jews (men and women, boys and girls) all in one day. As the judgment was being sent throughout the land, Mordecai, who quickly learned of Haman’s plot, knew he needed to solicit the aid of their Jewish queen in hopes that she could save them from utter destruction.
When he finally delivered the message to Queen Esther, Mordecai demanded that she speak to the king immediately on behalf of her people. Esther, in her fear, told Mordecai that she could not do such a thing, for to come before the king without being summoned would warrant death. Mordecai then told her,
Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13-14)
As these words pierced Esther’s heart, she was persuaded to move on behalf of her people. She told Mordecai to have all the Jews who were in close proximity to fast and pray on her behalf for three days. He listened to her plea, and did as she asked.
When the time came for Esther to speak to her king before it was too late, fear gripped her heart and soul. Nevertheless, she presented herself before him; and because she had such grace and mercy from the king, he hardly considered killing her for breaking his law. Esther told him that she needed to speak to him, but that she wanted to do so with Haman present. The king agreed, and that same day, she prepared a banquet for the king and Haman. Initially, she anticipated sharing what was on her heart; but it would seem that in her fear, she could not explain the life-threatening matter at that moment. Instead, she told them that she wanted to hold another banquet the next day; and on that day, she would present her request. (Imagine sitting in front of the very man who has plotted to kill you and your people, and sitting in front of the king who had solidified the decree to murder the Jews. Wouldn’t you be afraid?)
Now Haman had no idea that the queen was a Jew. He thought that because she requested his presence at both banquets, that she was showing favor towards him. Haman returned to his home, boasting to his family of the events that had just taken place. But when he returned to the palace for the second banquet, Haman soon learned that favor was not on her mind.
At the second meeting, the king asked Esther to make her request before them. Esther, with all her trust in God, boldly said,
If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue…. (Esther 7:3-4)
When the king heard this, he was outraged. He demanded that Esther reveal who had plotted to kill his queen and her people. Esther boldly pointed towards Haman and exclaimed, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” At that moment, the king was blown away. He immediately left the banquet room out of wrath, and while he was gone, Haman attempted to plea with the queen to save his life (the irony). When the king returned, he saw how Haman placed himself so closely to the queen, and was further outraged because he believed Haman was attacking her. Immediately, the king ordered that Haman be taken away and hanged on the gallows—the very same ones that he tried to use against Mordecai. Not only that, but the king gave orders to allow the Jews to fight back and destroy those who set out to assassinate them. The queen, against all odds and in the midst of intense fear, saved the lives of her people. Her actions came solely as a result of her refusal to remain silent, even with death looming in her way.
Of all the stories that I have read from the Scriptures, it is this one that the Lord drew me to the most, beginning at a very early age.
When I was about eleven or twelve years old, I attended a youth conference with other youth leaders from my church. While we were there, God was working and speaking through one preacher in particular. Like many preachers, he had an altar call, and encouraged any youth to come up for prayer. So, I and the group with me went forward.
I remember standing at the altar with other youth leaders, waiting patiently for him to come over and pray for me. When he finally arrived, I was not expecting him to utter the words that would soon come out of his mouth. As he prayed, God gave him several words concerning my future, which indicated what God intended to do in my life. Among other prophecies given to me, he told me that God was going to cause me to be a Queen Esther in the earth. This word was very strange to me because it was not like anything I had ever heard before. But as he repeated that phrase over and over to me, I knew that God was going to do something great in and through me.
When we returned home, we were able to share that message with my father, and I remember him being so proud of that word. Over the years, my father watched over that word to make sure that nothing I or anyone else did prevented it from being fulfilled in its entirety. And even though we rejoiced in the uniqueness of that prophecy, it was unfortunately something that I never fully understood.
For years, I asked the Lord what He meant by the “Queen Esther prophecy;” but I never received a clear answer. All I knew was that this particular word was of great importance, and I just couldn’t throw it by the wayside. In order to keep it at the forefront of my mind, I wanted that name to be on something that would serve as a daily reminder of that word spoken years ago. (My license plate reflects it: QN ESTR). I wanted God to know that while I did not fully understand what He meant by it, I was willing to let Him have His way in me. As far as I was concerned, I owed Him my life; and I was willing to do whatever He asked of me, no matter the cost. In essence, it was this prophecy that solidified my desires to become an educator. As I would later learn over the years, any time a prophet speaks over another person regarding being a “Queen Esther” in the land, it signifies God’s intent for change to happen in an organization where lives are at stake, and where dramatic change is necessary and crucial.
Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more…And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us? So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. (Genesis 37:5, 8 NKJV)
There are times when God will give us prophetic dreams to show us where He intends for us to be. Sometimes the desires that we have for our own lives are God-given interests that He embedded in our hearts. We must always be mindful and careful of these dreams, and guard them with all diligence. They give us purpose and illuminate our destiny.
Dreams are far different than goals. Dreams are an overall picture of how we see ourselves in our adult life. Goals are the roads that we take in order to bring those dreams to pass. For me, my only dream was to become a teacher.
When I was little, I thought being a teacher was the best profession one could have. I loved how they could take a lesson and make it fun for students. I loved how they would give out rewards for good behavior; but I especially loved how they were the boss in the classroom, and were paid for it. I wanted to be a teacher because I really did enjoy education; but I especially wanted that profession so that I could be a boss.
When I was little, I used to play school at my house. I would gather all my stuff animals and Barbie dolls, and give them lessons to learn. I used the books that we had in the house as the curriculum, and I would pretend to have them working on assignments for me to grade later. Because I knew what I wanted to do at a young age, my parents, especially my dad, made sure that I always performed well in school so that I could attend a prestigious university upon high school graduation. You see, it was not enough that I had a dream to do something great. I had to make sure that everything I did up until that point would somehow cultivate that dream. Doing exceptionally well in school was not an option. It was a requirement.
Of all the years I spent in school, I never struggled in the area of academics. For the most part, I had straight A’s in most of my classes. During elementary, middle, and one year of high school, I attended two private Christian institutions (Shore Acres Christian School in Bay Point, California, and Christian Center in Pittsburg, California). And I always performed exceptionally well in every class. For some reason, the work and lessons came to me easily. A teacher only had to explain a concept to me once, and I mastered it immediately. I was a stellar student, and every year that we had honor ceremonies, I always came home with countless awards that centered on academic excellence.
Because the work came to me so easily, I found myself outperforming my school mates of my same grade level. When I was in the 8th grade, I was reading at college level (according to the assessments issued to me from the administrator), and proficient in mathematics at the same level as their average 10thgrader. I had this issue, which remains with me today, that certain subject matters did not have the challenge that I needed to really produce the kind of intellectual results I was capable of. Unlike a lot of smart students who mess around because the work is too simple, I chose to take my education seriously because I knew that good grades and good behavior would be my tickets to immediate and life-long success. And even though I never fully experienced a challenge in school, I knew that success was my only option. I was addicted to it. And being the best at any and everything was my driving force. I don’t know when I first felt the high of success; but whenever I did, it stayed with me, even as I transitioned to my first (and only) public school.
By my tenth grade year, I had transferred to Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, California. I guess you could say I was tired of going to the private schools so much, and I wanted something different. A part of me actually believed that with the countless number of classes this school offered, I would finally find that challenge that I lacked everywhere else. I believed that by going to this public school, I would be given a lot more opportunities to participate in different types of classes, such as advanced placement courses, which would really prepare me for university-level work. Upon my transfer, I was already ahead of most of my grade-level classmates by the number of credits I had received from my former school. You see, at Christian Center, we were not bound by the regular six-class schedule. No, I had nine courses throughout the year, and the multiple credits I received from there were transferred to the public school. I had already accomplished so much by the time I reached the High that I even considered early graduation; but I dismissed that idea because I was in no rush to move through the educational system.
While at Pittsburg High, it was a dramatic change for me. I had never seen so many people in one area at one time. I went from seeing about 350 students at the private school to seeing over 2,000 students in this public school. My dad really helped me transition to this arena because he had worked for the Pittsburg Unified School District (another corrupt school district, but I won’t get into that). I don’t know what it is about parents who get heavily involved with their child’s education; but whatever my father did during those years, he was truly influential in making sure that I always received the best. He made sure that I had the best counselor, the best teachers, and the best and most-challenging classes. During my junior year, he told my counselor, Adrian Brown (my other guardian angel), to place me in AP English, AP History, Honors Algebra II, Chemistry, and Physics; and to make my schedule a little easier, Physical Education just to relieve the academic stress. I remember thinking, “My father has gone crazy.” But it was the first time that I had a challenge as a student; and as can be expected, I did very well in those courses also.
My time spent at the High was okay to say the least. A couple of the youth from the church went there, and they made sure to keep an eye on me. I met a couple of close female friends; but for the most part, I stayed very quiet and reserved. Everyone could tell that I was not from that area because I didn’t speak like they did; I didn’t dress like they did; and I took my education very seriously. This was not the common or stereotypical image of a Black female student, and in a way I stood out amongst the crowd. I was well received by my teachers and administrators, but a lot of students—female students—had issues with me. To say I had haters would be an understatement. I even had one female tell me that I was stuck up and conceited because I had my own hair (no weave). I can’t count the number of the ridiculous comments I received in high school from so many females, and I never knew why. To this day, I still don’t know why so many females hated me (or still do hate me). But it was only a stupid distraction to try and draw my focus off of what was real. I had better plans for my life anyways, plans that would be used to help others fulfill their goals and dreams. I didn’t have time to deal with the petty drama of high school life.
Although I was heavily immersed in my education, I was also greatly involved with my church and youth organization. I would go to church every day except Tuesday. Since I was one of the Pastor’s daughters, I found myself involved in any and everything. On Sunday, we had two church services. I would leave home by 8:30am and return by 8:00pm. On Mondays, I had dance practice; on Wednesdays, I had youth Bible study; on Thursdays, I had choir and praise and worship practice; on Fridays, I had either a youth night or intercessory prayer; and then Saturdays were spent either cleaning the church or having a youth leadership meeting or evangelism. By the age of 16, I was a full-time student and full-time ministry worker.
Ministry continued to be a huge part of my life. I wasn’t the type of Pastor’s daughter that simply attended church and helped out a little. Some Pastor’s children do things because they feel forced or compelled. I, on the other hand, did it because I genuinely loved the Lord, and I had a real relationship with Him. I knew that God had anointed me to preach and teach His Word to His people. In fact, I preached my first message when I was 13 years old, and I spoke on Acts 1:8—the baptism of the Holy Ghost. That night, I prophesied the Word of the Lord to adults and youth, and it was certainly not the last time I did that. I knew that He had a calling on my life, which did not focus entirely on education. And I knew that the only way that the calling could come forth was if I put His gifts and talents to practice.
As addicted as I was to success and education, I was even more addicted to the Lord and His supernatural power. I wanted all of Him. I craved His presence and His anointing, so much so that I often feared that my love for education would take me away from my devotion to God. I didn’t realize it then, but a youth who gets addicted to the Lord is a dangerous weapon to the enemy, Satan. A youth who not only wants better in life, but is entirely dependent on the Lord is deadly to the enemy’s plan. And he made no small objections to it. I can’t count the number of things he placed in my way to try and draw me away from God’s plan and destiny. In high school, he tried to ruin my reputation and my good name (the same thing that is happening today). He placed people in my way that did not belong in my life. He raised hell in my family life. He did all kinds of things. But the Lord kept me, and I know it’s because of the relationship I had with Him while I was a teenager. He helped me escape a lot of the traps that youth often fall into, including teenage pregnancy, promiscuity, alcoholism, drugs, prostitution, and the like. So many people, especially those in the church, were shocked when they realized that I had not become pregnant before graduating from high school, and still maintained my virginity into my adult life. (I guess chastity is not something that the Church expects from its youth…what a shame.) It was like the more I pressed into the things of God, the more I was attacked.
While under the leadership of my father and step mother, who were and are my spiritual parents, I developed a strong relationship with the Lord. God continued to use His servants to speak His Word over me concerning my future. Not only had God called me to be a Queen Esther in the earth, but also a prophet to the nations—someone who would proclaim God’s Word to the world. Now, try to imagine hearing all these prophecies as a young girl and teenager. While most teens are enjoying life and doing what youth normally do, God was telling me that He had a plan for me that even I couldn’t have imagined. He was consecrating me and setting me a part for His purpose. In fact, even when I tried to be a “normal” teenager, the Lord would ruin those plans, and draw me back to Him. I couldn’t escape His presence, even if I tried. But as long as the Lord allowed me to continue pursuing my educational dreams, I had no problem serving Him and doing His will.
Albeit I was doing so much in the church and ministry, I was still focused on fulfilling my goals of becoming an educator. Being at the High helped me realize that working in the public school system was more necessary than working for a private school. I remember thinking how unfair it was that some families were able to send their children to the best schools, while other families had to settle for the weak public school education. I could tell the difference in the way the teachers worked with the students, and I always felt like our society was a promoter of inequitable education. I believed that the best way to help people become truly successful was not to work in a setting that was already thriving, but to go where my help was most needed. From there, I decided to become a public school English teacher, not because I liked English–which by the way I really hated in high school, especially those boring literature books–but because I wanted to help people in reading and writing. I always believed that those were the most important skills that everyone had to learn and master. It was also the one subject that I felt was universal enough to provide young people with lessons on life, morality, and more.
Making plans to fulfill my dream was so exciting. By my senior year, I had applied to five universities in California. Because I was in the top 5% of my class, the state guaranteed me a spot at one of their Universities; and with that, I was accepted into the University of California, Davis in the Fall of 2001. There was nothing more enthralling than seeing how my hard work and diligence paid off. My success was even recognized in our city’s newspaper.
I could not wait to leave high school. Although it was an interesting experience, it was not what I had expected it to be. Looking back on it now, I think the best option would have been for me to have remained in the private school setting; but I am grateful that the Lord still used that experience to work in my favor. After all, it was because I went to a public school that I developed a heart for students who were forced to attend them. I believed that if a public school, with all its failures and what not, could have a good teacher in its organization, then there was hope for those students who had no choice in being there. This passion for the youth grew only stronger as I entered my undergraduate study at UC Davis.
In September 2001, I made my way to the first of a few college campuses that I would attend. For me, college was everything that high school was not. It was new and challenging. I was surrounded with people who had worked hard to get there. Exceptional learning was the norm; and for the first time, I felt like I fit in with others. I was not surrounded with stupid females. I did not have to worry about high school boys and their drama. I was in a world where education, intelligence, and personal growth were as valuable as one’s life. It was my home, where I belonged. And the more I explored new concepts and ways of thinking, the more I was convinced that education was truly the key to one’s success.
Being in college did more for me than any other experience (except when I gave my life to the Lord). It opened up windows of opportunities for me that would not have been there had I never went. I was more convinced that being an educator was the right profession for me, because I needed to show others what education could do for them also. I knew that if I came out of this system with empowering tools for success, I could then demonstrate to others how they, too, could become more powerful than the average man. I was so consumed with learning that I spent so much time making sure that I got everything I possibly could within a four-year time frame. So, upon graduation in 2005, I left the UC Davis undergraduate program with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and another in African American Studies. But I didn’t stop there. I returned to the school, and enrolled in their School of Education program where I received my Teaching Credential and Master’s Degree in Education—both within 15 months. By the age of 23, I was not only loaded down with academic degrees, but I had also received a full-time job as an English instructor. But I’m getting ahead of myself.