On Friday, I sat down with Yea Afolabi and asked her as many questions as I could in five minutes.Jonathan Zucker: How long and in what capacity have you worked at College Prep? Yea Afolabi: This is my third year as the Director of Learning Services.
JZ: Tell me about your job?Yea: I love that I get to help people for a living. I love that students who are coming in who have problems with anything from time management and organization, to having backpacks that are too heavy, to needing support with writing essays and history papers, can come by my office and always feel welcome to get the help that they need and that there’s absolutely no stigma associated with getting that help and support.JZ: What’s the goal of the Learning Center? Yea: The goal of the Learning Center – the actual physical space of the Learning Center – is to provide a space where students can come and either work by themselves at the laptop bar or work collectively with each other on homework. So they can work by themselves, they can work with other people, and we have a little study room. Students go in there and often work on group projects or study for tests together. It has a dry erase wall, so often times the students work out math problems on the wall. We also have a group work table that has a dry erase tabletop so students also do work on the table and leave notes for each other, which is really fun for them. It’s a welcoming, inviting space for people to work on their homework and anything they need support with.
JZ: What have you noticed about College Prep? Yea: When I first came for my job interview at College Prep and I walked through campus I was really taken away by the physical beauty of it. But even more so, after I started meeting the people, I knew this was the place for me. It had such an incredible energy. What I love is that faculty members are so dedicated to their jobs; people are really smart, very talented, and super creative. I’m inspired to be better at my job by seeing all the different things going on around me and by the new ideas and new projects that my colleagues are involved with. There’s a real authenticity around here in terms of people feeling like they can be who they are and express who they are, both among faculty and staff and among students. We have a student who likes to wear cat ears every day and faculty members who dress up for different things and that individuality is really appreciated and embraced here and I love that. JZ: What are you reading right now? Yea: I’m reading a book called Focus. I work with a lot of students on overcoming digital distractions, and this book is giving me some good information on how to help kids focus in and out of the classroom. JZ: I saw that you led a workshop with all of the ninth graders today. Tell me what you did with them. Yea: Today was one of our freshman Connections and Advisory Program meetings. This is our new advisory program, which I love. Today we were preparing the students for their first parent-student-advisor meeting, which will happen next week. The students will lead a 15 minute meeting in which they’ll share their journey so far at College Prep: what their highlights have been, what their challenges have been, some of the things that are inspiring them, some new interests they might have developed since entering high school, their goals and aspirations for the rest of the school year, and a plan of action for things that they can do to help them reach their goals. I walked them through a worksheet that I created to clearly outline all of those things and then condense them into a talking points outline to share with their parents at the meeting. JZ: What advice would you give to a student starting out at College Prep? Yea: Be yourself. Connect with other students. This is a place where you can really discover who you are and you can be loved for who you are, so don’t be afraid to show that authentic side of yourself.