All this week we’re sharing the photo essays we created for the New Schools Venture Fund Summit. These stories were shared with 1000 leaders of education reform.
It is nearly impossible to look at 18-year-old Jevon and imagine the student he remembers being – the one so lacking in confidence that he hid in the bathroom on the first day of fifth grade and cried.
Jevon comes across as poised, thoughtful, serious of purpose, and deeply committed to the three younger siblings he helps his mother to care for. Yet for Jevon, who always saw himself as a small boy with a small voice, his years at North Star Academy were very much about developing confidence. He also came to discover, on one of many school trips to the outdoors, his life’s dream: to become a horticulturalist.
“I never really looked like a leader,” Jevon says. “North Star creates this culture where, just because you don’t look like something, doesn’t mean you’re not actually that person.” As he mastered what he calls a “symbolic voice,” Jevon came to see himself as a leader.
Jevon is troubled by negative stereotypes of Newark, and has attained the academic prowess that will vault him beyond them. He was admitted to Posse, which guides academically strong urban students through college. And then came the call: he had been admitted to Lawrence University in Wisconsin, which has an excellent horticulture program.
“I went running through the house yelling,” he recalls. “I couldn’t go to sleep that night. It hit me that … I’m going to college. I can actually make something of myself now.”
Jevon’s one regret is that he must pass the torch of leadership at home. But when he becomes a horticulturalist, he says, “One of the things I want to do is provide students with the kind of education I’ve had.”
Hear the story of how the education reform movement is transforming lives: