Former special education student goes on to publish best-selling book


INSPIRATION: Rodney Sidney

AFTER SPENDING seven years in remediation and special education, the last thing Ronnie Sidney, II, MSW thought he would become was an author – let alone a best-selling one.

Rodney was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Specific Learning Disability (SLD), but he was not going to let that determine his future.

“When I graduated high school my goal was to become the next Puff Daddy. I wanted to own a record label, throw lavish parties and live the high life,” he said.

But that all changed when Ronnie switched his major from Business Management to Human Services at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

“Helping people came easy,” he explained, “My father is a minister, my sister is a social worker and my mother is a nurse. I guess it runs in the family.”

After graduating, Ronnie enrolled inVirginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work program in 2011 to learn how to better serve at-risk youth.

In 2015, Ronnie self-published  Nelson Beats The Odds , a graphic novel about a young man who struggles with the stigma of being placed in special education. The book became a platform for him to share his childhood experiences and bring attention to the plight of students with disabilities.

“The support on social media has been incredible,” he said. “Rapper Waka Flocka Flame expressed interest in my book and retweeted a tweet I made on Twitter. Members of Black Educators Rock, an online Facebook group, have been very supportive of my project.”

When asked what it felt like to be a best-seller, he added: “It feels great! To come from a small town like Tappahannock, Virginia and inspire kids from all over the world with my book is humbling. “


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