R. Frank Giddens expounds his philosophy on hard work to local youth at the St. Paul’s Youth Center- All Kids Are First Academy, April 2013. Giddens notes that he had no grand plans, but specific, measurable goals. He was impressed an an early age by a man who operated his own sawmill, and resolved one day to be like that man. This he did, running several of his own businesses, building his own house (and local church) and working towards specific goals- like saving to buy a piece of equipment.

Grand plans or sweeping government programs backed by an army of bureaucrats are not needed. But then again, Giddens proved the old US Army slogan – “an Army of One” a long time ago. His essential message- QUOTE: “If you want something in life, you have to work for it.”

Rev Giddens Part 2- MLK tribute at old schoolhouse

This brief tribute was given by Rev. Frank Giddens on the AKA Martin Luther King Day of Service remodeling project, at the Old Schoolhouse. He noted the hard times of old and mentioned sacrifice- life often involves sacrifice and suffering to make a better way. He also referenced an old scripture- putting your hands to whatever you were given to do with might.

Not trendy messages to be sure, but sorely needed in many places. Click video to see Giddens’ speech. Above is a picture of he and his wife Essie, the first schoolteacher at the Old Schoolhouse.

Click for video:

Rev Frank Giddens Part 1 on the old Espanola schoolhouse restoration

The All Kids Are First Old Schoolhouse is a remnant of the days of segregation, but was built with the “sweat equity” of the local community so children could get an education. The desegregation era saw a lot of community institutions, often developed at considerable sacrifice, and sources of pride and achievement, hastily torn down, destroyed and discarded- a fact that still rankles many black communities (Patterson, 2008). It is the first black schoolhouse in Flagler County, Florida, in the town of Espanola. Alone of all the former black schools, only the Espanola Schoolhouse remains.
Click below to watch video of Rev. Giddens speak about the Old Schoolhouse at the AKA King Day of Service, in Espanola – a project to help the restoration effort

It fell into disrepair in the 1970s as community children were shifted to other venues, but over the years, the crumbling structure was slowly rebuilt by Rev. Frank Giddens of the St. Paul’s Baptist Church, whose vision is to create an academic tutoring program, youth center and summer camp for the town’s disadvantaged youth. Rev Giddens also has another attachment to the old building besides history. His wife, Essie Mae Giddens, was the first teacher at the old building, and one of the first black teachers in Flagler County.

Historic Espanola schoolhouse returns to its youth – News Media Article

Daytona News-Journal on the All Kids Are First Old Schoolhouse
The News-Journal has followed the small Espanola community for years. The article writer Annie Martin, has an interesting take- the historic building, put out of commission by the sands of time and desegregation, makes a return not to “days of old” but to youth of the future- past and present thus combine in the building. Credit should be given to Rev. Frank Giddens Sr. whose hard work over several years restored the building structure bit by bit and grandson Reggie Williams who recruited local youth hard to participate.


Historic Espanola schoolhouse returns to its youth

By Annie Martin

Published: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.

BUNNELL — Nestled on a residential street in rural Espanola, unknowing drivers could easily mistake the white one-story building for a modest home.

Look closer, though, and you’ll see an orange and black “Open” sign in one of the front windows and a handful of bikes parked on the grass. Walk through the front door on a weekday afternoon and you might find children sitting at a row of computers, playing board games or chatting on a couch at the St. Paul Youth Center.

The building, formerly the Espanola schoolhouse, is now a supervised “teen hangout.” It’s a place where Espanola children can play with friends, work on homework and hone their reading and writing skills. About 20 children between 8 and 17 years old use the youth center about four days per week.

It was once a single-room schoolhouse — the only local school for black children in the 1950s and early 1960s. Children in first to seventh grades gathered in the building, which had no indoor bathroom or electricity. The school fell into disrepair after the children were integrated into the county’s other schools.

The Rev. Frank Giddens, pastor of the neighboring St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, started the renovation process about 10 years ago. The building is now air-conditioned, with new plaster on the walls and carpet and tile on the floors. The church picks up the tab for insurance and utilities.

Within the last year, volunteers have added new sinks, along with computers, blackboards and history displays. The outside could use “a fresh coat of paint,” but children have been using the building regularly for about a year, assistant director Mark Noel said.

Espanola, a tiny town west of Bunnell, thrived during the early 1900s. It was a way station town on the railroad line and a center for timber and turpentine production. But now, residents say there’s little for Espanola children to do outside of school.

Elsie Chappell, an Espanola resident since the early 1950s, led the charge to build a community center that’s within sight of the youth center. She was disappointed when it closed a few years ago.

“They’re going to find something to do and if you keep them busy, that will keep them out of trouble,” Chappell said.

Continue to the full News-Journal article:

Teacher and Assistant Director Mark Noel

The All-Kids-Are-First School now a center of hope for youth


The All Kids Are First Old Schoolhouse is a remnant of the days of segregation, but now a center of hope. It is the first black schoolhouse in Flagler County, Florida, in the town of Espanola. This settlement was originally set up for logging and turpentine production. Back then, two legally separate societies lived. On this score, things have changed for the better. The Schoolhouse was rebuilt by Rev. Frank Giddens of the St. Paul’s Baptist Church, whose vision is to create an academic tutoring program, youth center and summer camp for the town’s disadvantaged youth.

The building has been restored in most essentials by the hard work of Espanola’s Rev. Frank Giddens, but still needs substantial work inside to make it a complete place of learning. Space is cramped, and there are no summer programs planned or given for the children there. Their peers elsewhere enjoy theme parks, field trips and other opportunities, transported by school district buses that never reach the small town. The Old Schoolhouse relies in part on the generosity of donors and sponsors who are able to break down economic barriers to help the children of the small, rural town.

 All deductions are fully tax deductible.


Phone    386-338-7779



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