From the Corps: High Hopes
by: Kate Crimmins
First year Coordinator
Admiral William F. Halsey Jr. Leadership Academy, Elizabeth, NJ
John E. Dwyer Technology Academy, Elizabeth, NJ
After such an incredible week of training in California, my fellow coordinators and I were ready to hit the ground running upon our return home. Due to the immense amount of positive energy that surrounded us for seven days straight, the training week left us all feeling charged with excitement, support, and empowerment. So after the bitter sweet good byes, the airport delays, and the six hour flight back home was over, the only thought that went through my head the second I touched back down in JFK was: lets. do. this.
My first plan of action, and favorite cornerstone to the HealthCorps foundation, was to “reach sideways”. Come September, I would be working in Admiral William F. Halsey Academy and John E. Dwyer Technology Academy in Elizabeth, NJ and up until then I have spent the month of August reaching sideways to as many individuals as possible. Each personal insight has left me feeling even more prepared than before and has given me such a better understanding of what to expect during the upcoming school year.
After two hours of non-stop conversation with Halsey’s previous coordinator, Justin Simmons, one of the most impactful comments he made to me was that the principal wants the school to succeed. I immediately saw that to be true not only when meeting Halsey’s principal, but also when I met the principal of John E. Dwyer Academy, who both made it very clear that their main priority was helping their students succeed. Each welcomed me so warmly and with so much excitement, I instantly felt like I was a part of the team.
My first impression of John E. Dwyer Academy and Admiral William Halsey Academy was, whoa, these schools are huge. Coming from a very small high school myself, stepping into schools with over a THOUSAND students each was a bit of a shock. Drugs, teen pregnancy, and gangs were just a few challenges in these schools that were explained to me and almost all of these challenges were ones I had never encountered during my own small suburban high school experience. I knew that if I was really going to make an impact, I was going to have to step far beyond my comfort zone.
But the only way to succeed and actually make a difference is when you step out of your comfort zone and this was what I was looking forward to the most when accepting this position at HealthCorps. Along with the challenges that the schools faced, there were even more achievements that these schools were so proud of. The amazing staff that I had the opportunity to meet explained to me about their involvement with a number of powerful organizations dedicated to improving the school environment. Such organizations included, Shaping Elizabeth, the Y Alliance, and Alliance for a Healthier Generation. I was so proud to now be a part of this list and to this movement dedicated to giving their students better access to health and wellness education. Although the student body may be large, it gives me a greater opportunity to touch that many more lives for the better, and be able to learn so much more from so many individuals.
Having been born and bred in New York, becoming a Jersey Girl has been quite the experience. Leaving the place I have called home for twenty-five years is what has made this the most exciting summer yet. I could not ask for a better opportunity to build my life around than the one I have with HealthCorps.
I am reassured each new day on this job that I am exactly where I want to be in my career in the public health field. The hopes I have for these next two years are high, and with the support of such an amazing organization and my schools, I know these hopes will become a reality.