Growing up on CIS and Now Giving Back

Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we feature Jayda Fair, a 2020 graduate of Loy Norrix High School. A CIS alumna and Kalamazoo Promise Scholar, Jayda now works for CIS as a youth development coach. She supports students at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts while also acclimating to her new role of being a mother to daughter Na’riyah. She is looking forward to attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) next semester and ultimately obtaining a degree in social work.

We met up with Jayda over Zoom and popped this quiz on her. [Jayda is featured in the recently released CIS Annual Report, found here. She reflects on CIS and the community supports that have helped her succeed. You won’t want to miss it!]

Alright, Jayda: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.

Pop Quiz

What three words describe you?

Outgoing, fun, and open.

The pandemic disrupted life as we know it. Did it disrupt your educational and/career plans? If so, how?

Actually, pregnancy changed my plans way more than the pandemic did.

Jayda with her daughter.

Motherhood can do that to you! Your daughter is beautiful. [Na’riyah made a brief appearance at the beginning of this interview.] In being a new mother and navigating these challenging times, what have you learned about yourself?

I have more patience than I realized. And the days go by quickly!

What are you currently reading?

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. It’s like a poetry book. It’s about these high school kids who don’t like school, but as part of their class, the teacher has them writing poetry…It’s the “all-school” read for Maple Street.

Thinking back on your years at KPS, who was one of your most influential teachers?

At Woods Lake Elementary, it was Ms. [Mary Jo] Reilly. When I first started getting bullied, she picked up on it. She comforted me, addressed the situation, and got my parents involved. She connected me to CIS. I was quiet and becoming involved with CIS helped open me up.

At Maple Street, it was Ms. [Stephanie] Hampton. She made learning fun; that’s why I love English so much.

In high school, Ms. [Niambi] Pringle was a positive influence for me. She was like a mother figure. When I wasn’t feeling good or had a problem on my mind, she’d notice something was wrong, and took me under her wing.

As you have had the opportunity to be part of CIS as a young person, from first through twelfth grade, how would you explain CIS to others?

CIS is a movement that is all about empowering young people. CIS is there for you…It was there for me.

What is your favorite word or phrase right now?

YFE. That stands for: Your family is everything. My family and I take family seriously.

Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?

My parents. Also, [CIS Site Coordinator] Mr. [Montrell] Baker, and [Promise Pathway Coach] Melissa Nesbitt. They have all been so helpful.

You are a Kalamazoo Promise scholar!

Having the Promise is really helpful. I like that I don’t have to rush and can further my education at my own time. You have ten years to use the Promise.

It’s so cool that you received CIS support as a young student and now you are working for CIS!

I often thought that maybe I should work for CIS and give back, just like they did for me. I’d wonder, what if I could help kids, support them like CIS did for me.

And you are!

Yes! I’m really enjoying working with the students.

Thank you, Jayda, for hanging out with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids.