An Interview with Kaleb Hargous
[Header photo: a sign in the library of Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot K-8 School]
by Phebe Myers, AmeriCorps member serving on the Bank of America team with Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot K-8 School
Kaleb Hargous, first year AmeriCorps member serving at the Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School K-8 in Mattapan, is a ball of energy. At morning greeting Hargous screams the loudest, dances the fiercest and brings a “fired up” intensity. The South Phoenix, AZ native transplanted himself to Boston after a year at ASU to serve with City Year.
Why City Year?
KH: I wanted to work with younger students, because my elementary experience was a rough time for me. My parents got divorced and I had to move around a lot. I wanted to be able to give back to a community and share from my experiences to help students grow.
KH: I came to Boston because when I was little I had a hard time with my R’s, so I got made fun of. My mom told me, just tell them you’re from Boston! When I was around 6 years old and able to use a computer, I looked up the Boston skyline and fell in love. Since then I’ve wanted to move to Boston.
What are your goals for this year?
KH: My goals for my City Year are to work on developing myself as an adult so that I can teach my students where I came from and how I have evolved as a person. I always ask my students, “If you could change the world, how would you?” and they give me the best answers. They inspire me to become a better person, not only for myself but for them.
What are some of those answers?
KH: One of the 1st-graders I work with after school told me that if he could change the world he would give everybody a dog and a cat and, if they were allergic to peanut butter, he would give them jelly sandwiches. That was one of my favorite answers; it's relatable.
What have been some of your favorite experiences with City Year so far?
KH: I have a student in my 3rd grade classroom that has difficulty managing his emotions. We started journaling together, and I told him every time an issue arises to write it down. A student came up behind him and hit him and I looked at him and acted out writing in a journal. He wrote for an hour. I told him how proud of him I was, and that I wanted to read it. After the lesson, he handed me his journal, it said things like “ I want to hit this person, I want to run around the classroom, etc” at the very bottom of the page it said, “Thank you Mr. H.” I turned the page over and wrote “I’m so proud of you, you’re so kind and talented. I knew you could do it.” He read it and said, “Mr. H are you being serious? Are you proud of me?” and started crying. I said, “Yes,” and took off my City Year jacket and gave it to him. I said, “You acted like a real City Year today, because you were safely able to handle your feelings just like a City Year would do.”
Since then this student has participated in morning greeting almost everyday, standing right by Mr. H’s side, like a real City Year.