Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Young Wonder Award of 2009

This award goes to a person who has demonstrated outstanding achievement before the age of 25

Terrence BrooksA seminary student at Dallas Theological Seminary, Terrence applied for our AmeriCorps program. When we first interviewed him, we only had positions in our After-School Academy for elementary students. I knew he would be a great role model and figured he would adapt to teaching young children. However, before our programs started, we were given space in a new building that we were able to open up as our Teen University.

Because of Terrence’s experience working with college students at Huston-Tillitson and because of his future interest of starting his own non-profit program, I thought he would be the perfect person to run our Teen University. I couldn’t have been more right.

At 24-years old, Terrence works 30+ hours a week (in addition to his full time class load at DTS) with the 6th-12th graders in the Roseland TownHomes housing development. He has a personality that connects him with people. His determination to inspire success in the young people he works with is contagious, so much so that though the teens grumble, they continue to look up words in the dictionary at his direction and they continue to watch the “educational movies” that he brings (and have even challenged people, “How is this movie going to be educational?” when people not so aware of the process have come in). The students even arrive at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning to go on college trips.

However, Terrence is not just a fun person that the teens love to be around. Terrence holds them accountable and has high expectations. He forces them to face consequences for bad choices and then proactively challenges them to think through their decisions.

Most recently, Terrence connected with a group of middle school boys. The boys started coming at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning to create a set of rules and consequences, take a typing test, and follow Terrence’s more stringent rules that he has for younger students. He noted that these younger boys are his new focus since he has already set up the structure for Teen U and has Brittany, Dranoel, and Jeffrey in place to oversee it while he focuses on the younger ones.

Terrence is an up-and-coming leader who has already come up. What he will inspire in the teens and how he will develop a college-focused program is something I excitedly await to see.
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