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“Nelson Beats the Odds” by Ronnie Sidney

Mar 20, 2023 05:21AM ● By Lenora Kruk-Mullanaphy

Instilling confidence in children, encouraging a love of reading and possessing a heightened level of social awareness are some of the most important lessons for youngsters to learn, and now all three are wrapped up in one book series. “Nelson Beats the Odds” is the first book written by Ronnie Sidney, II, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). It’s geared to students who may be struggling academically, emotionally or behaviorally.

A therapist, author, professional speaker and entrepreneur, the Tappahannock resident said the book, which was published in 2015, is a semi-autobiographical novel about a young man who overcomes the stigma of being placed in special education.

“My former special education teacher encouraged me to tell my story after I earned my master of social work from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU),” says Sidney. “I wanted to inspire struggling students to beat the odds.”

Sidney was diagnosed with a learning disability in third grade, spending the next seven years in special education. His early academic challenges led him to share his story.

Celebrating friendship, resilience and empowerment with colorful illustrations, the book is ideal for individuals diagnosed with learning disabilities and mental health disorders.

The next in the series, “Tameka’s New Dress,” focuses on a strong girl who finds that adults can and do support her. She confronts her bullies without becoming one herself.

“Rest in Peace RaShawn Reloaded” is about the fatal police shootings of black men in the recent past and the chain of stigma, shame and silence that engulfs many lives, communities and neighborhoods. The book was on the recommended book list for the 2018 “In the Margins Book Award.” The accolade is presented after a committee of librarians, who work with marginalized youth, deem the book an outstanding fit to recommend to other groups that work with these individuals. It also earned an honorable mention for the 2018 Young Adult Virginia Authors.

Sidney became a licensed clinical social worker in 2017 and has been noted as one of the “15 Black Male Therapists You Should Know” by HuffPost. That same year he was honored by Old Dominion University (ODU)—where he received a bachelor of science in human services in 2006—for the “Darden Award” for alumni who have made outstanding achievements. He was one of 200 VCU Alumni in “The Power Issue” of the school’s Shafer Court Connections magazine.

Sidney’s impressive college education began with J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond before transferring to ODU.

With so many titles, Sidney also holds those of husband and father. He is a member of the VCU Center on Transition Innovations, the Essex County Economic Development Authority and Essex Youth Football Association. He also makes author visits, conducts workshops and provides keynote addreses, where he inspires students, parents and professionals to push their boundaries and grow.

For more information on “The Nelson Beats the Odds” series and Sidney, visit the website at The books in the series can be purchased on Amazon. Sidney can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @ronniesidneyii on Facebook at and at

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