By Amelia Bragg-Phillips, Izabella, Angel Mercado, Jetaly Traverso
Ana Reyes (she/they) joined Common Ground this spring as the Green Jobs Corps Coordinator. Green Jobs Corps has been a program at Common Ground for more than a decade, and allows students to get paid to do jobs for the better of Common Ground and New Haven. The Educational Change interns, Amelia Bragg-Phillips, Jetaly Traverso-Torres, Luis Diaz, Izabella Eichensehr, and Angel Mercado interviewed Ana to get an insight on what she does in her daily life being the coordinator of this program.
What’s your job at Common Ground?
I am the Green Jobs Corps Coordinator. I’m responsible for coordinating job placements, doing leadership skill building workshops, supporting students in succeeding in their jobs.
What are your previous work experiences ? What made CG a good next step for you?
Almost all of my previous work experiences are jobs at Common Ground, through Green Jobs Corps! I have worked with the Urban Resources Initiative, Common Ground summer camp, farm crew, mobile market, kitchen crew, and CitySeed farmer’s markets. I also have a second job right now, working at a restaurant.
I’m in college – though I am taking this semester off – to get a special education degree working with high school students. Since high school students are the age group I would like to work with, I thought role at Common Ground this would be a good way for me to build experience.
What part of CG made you come? What makes you want to stay? What motivates you to work here?
I decided that because I’m in school to become a teacher and want to work with high school students, Common Ground High School would keep me on path. I’m not in school this year and I wouldn’t want to stray away from the work I’m trying to do.
I enjoy working with teenagers and being able to give students opportunities to better and go further in their lives. That also motivates me to work here because I’m also improving the quality of life for a lot of students and connecting them with opportunities they might not have had elsewhere.
What makes you want to work with young people/young adults? What made you want to be an educator?
Because I went to Common Ground, the relationships I built with staff had a positive impact on me. They made me want to come to school everyday, and do well in my classes. I hope that I can be that positive connection and role model in other kids’ lives who may not already have that relationship with an adult.
What’s your approach to teaching and helping students?
My approach to teaching is just being very open and cheerful – being someone that’s approachable, but also setting the boundaries, like how important it is to complete your work.
I feel like I have a lot of leadership skills and people skills. I’m really good with interpersonal relationships, really helping people and getting to know them.
What were you like as a high school student? What kind of learner were you?
As a high school student I was always very cheerful, very confident, full of energy, and kind. I wasn’t a conventional learner. I wasn’t all work and no play. I was talkative, but always managed to get my work done.
What’s one thing that’s stayed true since you were a student here?
Something positive that stayed the same is the dedication a lot of staff feel towards the work that they do. It feels so much better as a student, when you go to school and people really care about the work they do.
How is the school different than when you were a student here? What’s one change you’d like to see at Common Ground and why?
One way that the school is different is that you only have guidance once a week whereas we had guidance everyday. Because we had guidance more than once a week, we were able to build community more easily. In my role as a Green Jobs Corps Program Coordinator, there is information that I need to pass along to students. Guidance would be a great time for me to connect with students, but since there’s only one guidance period a week it’s hard to get that information to all students.
What advice would you give a current Common Ground student?
I would encourage you to be open minded! That’s one of the best things that anyone can do. There are opportunities here that are different – like working on the farm, or working with kids. Try it before you decide whether or not it’s for you.
What do you want students and families to know about you as a person?
I want students and families to know that I am a resource to them. I am available to provide families and students with the different information they need. I am a person who likes to help and give to the best of my ability.