Meet our Specialist of the Month winner for October, Jocelynne Braddock, an in-school specialist, from Hartford High School. Jocelynne has been a Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) specialist for seven years and has made a big difference in the lives of the youth she serves. We asked several questions so you can get to know her better…
Why did you become a JMG Specialist?
I fell into this role during a permanent substitute teaching position during former JMG specialist Val Owen’s pregnancy leave. I decided to pursue my own role because of the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students; what we do with students is measurable, and has a positive impact.
What inspires you about your job?
There is not a day that goes by that I am not inspired by my students. My students are passionate, they put in hard work and have grit. They fight through labels, negative stereotypes, and struggles, they encounter cyber bullying, and social media’s unfair expectations, they balance heavy schedules of working full time to help support their families, balancing athletics and academics, they volunteer, they advocate, they care for their siblings, and they overcome so many barriers daily, monthly, and yearly. Many of the students I teach are first generation high school graduates, let alone being college bound, and their drive to succeed despite all they encounter is something that I will forever be inspired by. My students are my world, and I am so proud of all of their accomplishments.
Recall a favorite memory about being a specialist. (an event, a youth accomplishment, etc.)
I have many, so it's very hard to choose just one. Most recently, it was definitely seeing one of my students reach a personal goal after a major disappointment. This particular student worked very hard with her team as a Junior and did not place in the Creative Problem Solving competition at the Career Development Conference (CDC). She and her team were devastated by this loss because they practiced so hard. She made a goal for her senior year to place in the Career Preparation Public Speaking individual event at the state competition. She put together a stellar presentation on photography. She worked hard practicing over and over, and she not only placed at the CDC, but she won 1st place. That student was Kamryn Kyles, and to see the joy and pride that she had in herself of achieving that victory is something I will always hold with me throughout my teaching career.
Last year, our Career Association made the greatest impact on our community ever. We had record numbers for our blood drives, we were able to raise over $1,000 and collected over 1,000 personal care items to donate to victims of assault in our Purses with a Purpose drive with Michigan State Police. We also won awards for our commitment to Rake-A-Difference. Last year’s community service projects truly made a difference, and that piece of what we do is always my favorite.
Another favorite memory I have occurred during my first year as a JMG specialist. I worked with then senior Sandra Perez who was a first generation high school graduate and college bound student and was a Dreamer/ DACA student (meaning she would not receive the ability to take advantage of Federal Student Loans or any government help with college). I worked extremely hard with her to help her craft an essay and video to achieve a full ride scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. The day she told me that she got the scholarship, I had never felt more proud or elated. I have had many students achieve full ride scholarships since then, but that was a moment I will never forget.
What is one of the greatest challenges you face in your job?
I think the greatest challenge is the things I cannot control. I can’t control what happens to my students outside the safety and support of my classroom, or our wonderful school community. There are various factors that I ponder that follow me home, that I worry about. The greatest challenge of all is time, there is never enough time to devote to every student who needs it, or to balance the data entry, or to get in everything that you want to do before the school year is over.
What is one of the greatest highlights/joys of your job?
These are my greatest joys; watching students succeed; when they get into the college of their dreams, or write that winning resume that gets them hired; when they work really hard at a class they’ve been struggling in and raise that grade from an F to a B; when you teach a concept and the moment you see it click for a student; when you begin to see each student’s self esteem rise, being in a supportive environment, and when they start collaborating and helping one another; when you see students exhibit a growth mindset; when class time changes from lecture based to teacher facilitated discussion where everyone participates; when students feel free to be themselves.
Why do you think JMG is so important for youth?
JMG facilitates a curriculum that encourages student voice and choice, that builds empathy and respect, and that 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.
Share your hobbies, do you have any pets, what do you like to do in your spare time, etc.
I love to make music, sing, canoe/kayak, cycle, rollerblade, travel and read. Fun fact: recently I was accepted into the Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative and will be working with a cohort of teachers from around the state advocating for different legislation at our capital that supports student transition to postsecondary education/college & career readiness.
A couple random facts to get to know you better.
I am also a certified English teacher. I am a dog mom of 2 huskies, Homie and Laika.
Nominations are open to ALL, including our employer partners! If you know a phenomenal specialist, we encourage you to nominate them as our November Specialist of the Month.
Nominate a specialist who deserves to be recognized, here.