This summer, 12+ welcomed six new talented individuals to the team through the 2014-2015 Fellows Initiative. These Fellows are commissioned to implement workshops, to provide academic assistance, and to serve our students in the PLUS Centers of our partner schools, Kensington Health Sciences Academy and Penn Treaty School. Here, we document their stories and experiences.
Jazzmin, a proud graduate of Yale University and lover of cheesy romantic comedies, joined 12+ after teaching in an after-school program in Southern California. After the first two weeks of the school year, Jazzmin reflects on her time at Kensington Health Sciences Academy (KHSA).
On the first day of classes at KHSA, every passing period brought a new rush of students doing a double take as they walked into the Center. “It looks so different!”, and “Where’s Sarah/Ester/Albert/Ray?” were the two most frequently heard phrases that day. With a changed setup and a new set of fellows, Christine, Aelita and myself, we had altered what many students expected to return to on their first day. But as we talked to the students, introduced ourselves, and heard the stories of why they’d been looking forward to seeing the other 12+ staff it became clear that this space and its inhabitants were an integral part of this school. We had heard this from administrators, teachers, and the 12+ staff, but until students stormed in, happy to report back their summer adventures, ready to continue on their high school journey with 12+ at their side, it hadn’t seemed real.
Throughout the day I realized why it was that our Center had been so many students’ destination. The PLUS Center, from the moment students passed through KHSA’s doors became so much more than its four walls. At any given moment it was a hangout spot, a place to do homework, a library, or a resource center. Most of the time it served all of these purposes at once, each corner buzzing with students and staff making the space their own.
Only two weeks in the school year have passed. Yet in that time, the other Fellows and I have become the faces sought out each morning. Students know our names, remember the silly things we do, and bring in the resumes/essays/applications we offered to help with the day before. We’ve cheered on the sidelines in their soccer and volleyball games (GO TIGERS!), and been floored by their skills in chess, poetry, and magic. In that same time we’ve gone from shaking hands and nervously introducing ourselves to teachers and administrators, to being sought out as resources and trading inside jokes. In short, we’ve become a part of Kensington.