Jocelynne has been a Specialist at Hartford High School for six years. Jocelynne works with traditional high school students as well as students in the alternative program, providing them all with guidance, motivation, support, and the skills needed to succeed in education, employment, and in life. We asked Jocelynne several questions to get to know her better.
Why did you become a JMG Specialist?
I became a JMG specialist after substitute teaching while former specialist Val Owen was on maternity leave. I loved the flexibility in the curriculum, the opportunities for student mentorship, community-based service projects, and the measurable difference one can make in student outcomes and lives.
What inspires you about your job?
I absolutely adore my students. They are the reason why I'm here. I am inspired by every milestone they achieve. Whether performing credit recovery after falling behind, being the first in their family to graduate high school, or being the first to attend college, I am so very proud of everything my students overcome to be successful. I am inspired by the amazing individuals I get to teach and impact every day in my classroom.
Recall a favorite memory as a Specialist.
It is very hard to choose a specific memory, for there are so many. Most recently, I was never prouder than when I witnessed my students take home first place at the Career Development Conference in the statewide JMG Bowl after studying so hard to achieve the goal. I was so proud when my student of 4 years, Osvaldo Hernandez, told me he was accepted at Michigan State University. I absolutely adored watching both Crystal Steele and Caitlin Steele grow as leaders and accept their extremely well deserved "JMG Youth of the Year" awards. My first favorite memory happened during my first year as a Specialist. Sandra Perez, who was a senior at the time, was a first-generation high school graduate, was college-bound, and was a Dreamer/ DACA student (meaning she was not eligible to receive Federal Student Loans, or any government help with college). She and I worked extremely hard to craft an essay and record a video to apply for a full-ride scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. The day she told me that she won the scholarship I never felt prouder! I have had many students achieve full-ride scholarships since then, but that was a moment I will never forget. There are so many moments I cherish and hold dear, I most certainly have a favorite every year, and am so grateful I am privy to witness each!
What is one of the greatest challenges you face in your job?
Time, there is never enough time to devote to every student who needs it, or to balance the data entry, or to accomplish everything that you want to before the school year is over. In addition, COVID has provided many barriers to education, both academically and emotionally that my students face. Not only is learning loss a true tragedy within this mix, but job loss, and economic instability with parents. Working with students who deal with parents with addiction, who are oftentimes required to be adults too early in life, is hard.
What is one of the greatest highlights/joys of your job?
One of the greatest highlights and joys I receive as an educator is watching my students succeed, hands down. That moment when a student works tirelessly to bring their grade up in that class they've been struggling in; when they work so hard to apply, and then get the job; when they formulate an essay in a competition with their peers and others around the state, and they get that scholarship; when students get into the college of their dreams; when you teach a concept and notice the moment it clicks for a student; when you begin to see each students’ self-esteem rise because they are in a supportive environment; when students start collaborating and helping one another; when you see students exhibit growth mindset; when class time changes from lecture based to facilitated discussion where everyone participates; when students feel free to be themselves; when a student worked hard all night to support themselves and their family, but know they are safe to take a nap on the floor during the day in my class period; when a student trusts you enough to feel safe enough to let their guard down when they deal with so much at home; when they graduate; these are the moments I live for.
Why do you think JMG is so important for youth?
I think JMG is important for youth because it provides a support system within the educational system they already operate within and teaches communication, work-based skills, financial literacy, and overall values needed to not only be a good team-oriented worker in this world but a good human being. JMG facilitates a curriculum that encourages student voice and choice, that builds empathy and respect, and teaches work-based concepts that students will need and apply in the real world. There is so much that I teach students that I wish I would have learned before entering college and the workforce.
Please share a couple of random facts to get to know you better.
In my spare time, I sing and write songs with my friends, I do pyrography (wood burning), I love to dance, I play djembe, and do everything I can to make my voice heard on issues that matter (advocate, protest, etc).