Recently we caught up with Tyren Frazier, Executive Director of Higher Achievement’s Richmond office, which operates programs in three Richmond middle schools and one in Henrico County.
What did you do before coming to Higher Achievement?
Tyren: Prior to joining Higher Achievement in August 2010, I spent 13 years with the Boys and Girls Club in several communities around Virginia. I had the opportunity to launch new clubs in brand new communities, and work with staff, volunteers, and community partners to grow programming for youth ages 6-18 years old.
What’s the main difference between the Boys and Girls Club and Higher Achievement?
Tyren: In a word, academics. Higher Achievement is focused. The club was broad.
Can you see yourself in the scholars?
Tyren: Definitely, middle school is a critical time in child development. Everything can change. It was definitely the rockiest point in my life. My mom was laid off from her job at the local hospital. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t have all the things I wanted, and I wanted everything I saw. Skipping school became a regular habit, along with other bad behaviors. One day I found myself in court answering to a judge, and then walking away in handcuffs to the Detention Home, all at 12 years old in the 8th grade.
What did you learn from this experience?
Tyren: My mom didn’t give up on me, and neither did my probation officer. He threw a big party for me when my probation was over three years later, and we’re still in contact today. He’s the reason I joined the board of Virginia’s State Board for Juvenile Justice. For a lot of young people, especially young men of color, the whole system seems like it’s set up for one thing—your failure.
What’s the best part of your job?
Tyren: The scholars, definitely. They’re all special, all unique, but two that come to mind immediately are Keyshawn, who knew he was destined to play professional football, until he broke a few vertebrae. Now he’s got to re-evaluate and find a new path. And Chantal, who’s an academic rock star, a straight-A student. Her mom is a rock star, too. She recruits scholars and does Spanish-English interpretation.
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