Opportunity High School’s Jovani Colon: Spotlight on Student Success

SPOTLIGHT on EXCELLENCE  February 2015
 

Opportunity High School's Jovani Colon: Spotlight on Student Success

Jovani Colon, honor student at Opportunity High School
When asked what’s different about Opportunity High School (OHS), OHS student, Jovani replies, “It’s a life-changing school.” Today Jovani. is 18 and he will graduate with a high school diploma in June, but when he enrolled at OHS two years ago, when people told him that he wasn’t doing anything with his life, he agreed with them, “Maybe not, but so what?”
 
Two years ago, Jovani was not doing well at a local public high school, and he rarely attended school. When asked about his grades today, he pulls out his phone to display a photograph of two OHS awards that he received in October of 2014. One is High Academic Honors and the other is Excellence in Attendance. Today Jovani is excelling in school.
 
His teachers say that this improvement in his grades is a direct result of his attitude and commitment; good grades didn’t come automatically or easily for him. One of his teachers reflects that Jovani. is a “real hero;”
 
His teacher described him as his “go-to man” when he needed a kickstarter in classroom discussions. All of his teachers agree, saying that Jovani, “always gives 100%” and that this positive peer pressure has been contagious in all of his classes. One of his teachers says that, “Jovani is the reason that I teach here. He wants to succeed and he knows that he needs some help and direction. I admire his tenacity; he shows up, asks for help and puts in the effort to get the job done.”  
 
Jovani had two weekly meetings scheduled with his Youth Development Specialist (YDS), but they both laugh and agree that he actually “stopped by” to meet with her every day for the two years that he has been enrolled at OHS. His YDS remembers working with him to develop his Individual Student Plan (ISP). His education goal was to graduate high school and, in the beginning, Jovani was happy to do this with the bare minimum; his original goal was to get average grades in all of his classes. Through commitment and hard work, he was able to succeed. His YDS pointed out to him that he’d achieved his goal in his second semester, but he’d also gotten done better.” She wondered if he might not want to set a different goal. Jovani agreed and set a goal to get even better grades.  He succeeded and, as mentioned above, today he is earnign excellent grades.
 
Today Jovani is filling out a FAFSA. He wants to go to college to become a paramedic. He is working with supporting partner, Our Piece of the Pie's (OPP’s) Postsecondary Specialist to write a college admission essay entitled “My Worst Failure.”  Jovani is writing about his decision to drop out of school and the things that he has learned at OHS since returning. He admits that he’s learned a lot in his classes, but he’s learned a lot more about what it takes to succeed in life.
 
Jovani has demonstrated his understanding of what it takes to succeed in two internships that OPP’s Workforce Development Coordinator placed him in after he completed a Career Competencies Development Course (CCDC) at the school. The Workforce Coordinator says that Jovani is “in demand” with employers; both of his workplaces wanted to hire him, but he continues to explore new possibilities and ideas. He has found his own, unsubsidized employment, using the car that he saved internship dollars to purchase and the driver’s license that his YDS helped him to study for and achieve.  
 
OHS Principal, Rodney Powell is very proud of Jovani, saying, “I don’t have deep enough words to describe Jovani. It’s a funny thing to say about a student, but he is ready to lead. I see a lot of kids who are on their way to becoming responsible adults, but Jovani is already displaying this today. I am confident that he is going to succeed.”
 
Of his own life experiences, Jovani states, "I'm really happy this is happening in my life, and I'm also very grateful I have met great people.  Thank you to everyone who has come into my life and for eveyrthing you have done to help me."
 
Submitted by:
Valerie Klokow, Our Piece of Pie
 

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