My name is Ms. Jess. I am Achievement Coach at Higher Achievement. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and have worked in youth development in this city for many years.
The most rewarding part of being an Achievement Coach is witnessing the confidence that builds when the scholars take the time to do the work and realize they are 100% capable. They are so brilliant and passionate with so many amazing skills and ideas. They are trying to make sense of the world around them, and I love empowering and encouraging them along that journey.
The biggest challenge facing Pittsburgh middle-schoolers is the huge resource disparities in the schools. Massive racial disparities and resources available really hurt a lot of kids. The truth is you don’t get the same access to education in every neighborhood across America equally. It’s critical for all kids to have the resources and opportunities that they need to thrive, but that’s not how our education system and our social and economic systems are set up right now. And while education is only one piece of the puzzle, it’s particularly essential for kids to build the confidence and skills to change the world in the way they envision it being changed.
Higher Achievement is working tirelessly to challenge and fill some of the gaps in the education system and provide the space for kids to receive additional support. Young people are invested in the models they see around them and want to pursue things they believe are possible. The more we are able to expose scholars to possibilities, the higher the likelihood is that they see themselves in those possibilities.