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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Inside the notebook at Imagine Hope Community Charter Part VI: Jerome Clemons embraces role of coach

Each week throughout the fall DC SCORES season, I will be accompanying the students of the Tolson campus of Imagine Hope Charter on their journey through DC SCORES’ Power of Poetry curriculum. This will include weekly content posted on Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and this blog. Follow these talented kids as they learn to express themselves through one of the purest forms of art! You can stay in touch with me by following me on Twitter at @DCSCORESInterns and @DCSCORES. Enjoy!

-Brady Smithsund, Fall 2013 Intern


Last week I sat down with one of Imagine Hope's coaches, Jerome R. Clemons, Jr, to ask him a few questions about his life and how he came to work for DC SCORES. While his students prepared for the Poetry Slam!, the 5th-8th grade Social Studies teacher took a moment to reflect on his journey to DC SCORES.

DC SCORES: How did you get into education or start working with youth?

JC: I first started volunteering with youth in Charleston, South Carolina, when I was in high school. I worked with a non-profit organization called Youth Service Charleston. I helped start a summer reading tutorial lab for elementary students. To get the program off the ground, I worked with Youth Service Charleston, who assisted in getting books and reading supplies donated to the program. I found area camps that needed volunteers to help with campers' reading skills. Additionally, I mobilized many of my friends to volunteer. I have always cherished those memories of volunteering working with kids. I see those early experiences as my foundation into my current educational career. After high school I attended Towson University, where I played soccer and majored in Social Science. Upon graduating, my first teaching position was abroad teaching English to 4th-6th graders at a school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Why did you choose to work for DC SCORES; what attracted you to the program?

DC SCORES combines two of my favorite hobbies: soccer and poetry! Last school year I learned about DC SCORES and became interested in bringing the program to my school. I surveyed students to find out if they were interested. The response was overwhelming. There was interest from students in all grade levels. Finally, I contacted DC SCORES and worked on logistics.

Now that you’ve been doing it for a while, what do you enjoy most about it?

I enjoy the process of helping to drive student athletes towards success. We absorb information together learning, creating, and sharing new poetic ideas and soccer skills. I reciprocate the same love and excitement they share for DC SCORES.

Why is DC SCORES important to the school and the students it serves?

DC SCORES is vital to our school in helping to create community, self-expression, and integrity. The students we serve at Imagine Hope Tolson love sharing their experience this year with DC SCORES. We are one of the schools that does not have any athletic facilities on campus. The excitement that is felt on the days we have soccer practice and games is electric. Students sing cheers on the way to practice and even on the bus to games. Students look forward to having the opportunity to be outside and play soccer after school. The poetry component has helped create confidence in our students. DC SCORES has touched everyone at our school. Classmates and staff are always asking about our team!

Was there an experience you had growing up that pushed you into education or toward a program like DC SCORES? Were you in a similar program?

My first experience with soccer was with the Ebony City Soccer Club Lil’ Peles. Since 1980, Ebony City Soccer Club has been providing an organized team soccer experience to youth between the ages of 5 and 16 years in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Lil' Peles soccer team was established to provide a vehicle that would help channel the energy of the area youth in a positive direction. Just like DC SCORES! The Lil’ Peles derived their nickname from the undisputed master of the game, Brazilian born soccer player Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele). His background as a youth was one of poverty and a determination.

What progress have you seen from your students during the writing session?

The progress I have seen during writing sessions has been connected to their creativity, confidence, and communication. Their vocabulary has constantly grown each week. The level of detail has also increased each week in their writing. They enjoy being specific and providing unique details.

What are you most looking forward to about the Poetry Slam!?

I am most looking forward to seeing my students take the confidence from the soccer field to the stage. I am excited to see all of the school performances. I know students and coaches have been working hard to put together performances for the Poetry Slam!.

Who is your favorite athlete?

My favorite athlete is Lionel Messi of La Liga club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Before writing sessions would start, I would show my players highlight videos of Messi and say you need to emulate him on the field.

Who is your favorite musician or poet?

My favorite poet is Khalil Gibran.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is baked macaroni and cheese.

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