Everyone says it’s hard to teach middle schoolers, but something about meeting the challenge and opportunity of their constant state of “figuring-it-out” pulled me right in. After graduating from Harvard in 2014, I joined Teach for America and spent three years teaching middle school math and science in and around my hometown of Henderson, N.C.
I was in middle school myself when I first met two visionary educators who showed me by example the power and privilege of being an educator. Mrs. Robertson, my 6th grade math and science teacher and the truest definition I know of a no-nonsense nurturer, taught me that to make change, you must truly care about the people you’re serving. Mr. Sanchez taught me the value of hard work and mentorship when he took me under his wing and went on to build a successful charter school from the ground up in my hometown, a community that was constantly overlooked and underappreciated. My belief in the power of young people and desire to break down barriers that hold back progress is inextricably tied to the values these educators instilled in me. Although I can never pay them back, I will always find ways to pay it forward.
When I moved to Boston and pivoted to focus on policy and advocacy, my passions and values led me to Teen Empowerment (TE). Every day at TE, I worked directly with young people to create solution pathways through the arts, civic engagement, public speaking and more. After about a year in this role, I was tapped to step in as the Director of Boston Programs, where I developed relationships with community leaders and worked on public-private partnerships with organizations like John Hancock.
I also collaborated with many state and local officials, which lead to a thrilling chance to manage a Boston city-council member’s re-election campaign. Though my career started in education, my roles at Teen Empowerment and as a Campaign Manager exposed me to the dynamic relationship between communities, state and local policy. Now at Sanford, I’m exploring that relationship further and honing skills that will strengthen my advocacy and broaden my reach. Jaquell Sneed-Adams MPP’23 #HumansofDukeSanford #MPP