During our third Pathways to Access Program Career Spotlight, we showcased two passionate educators. Both are from unique backgrounds and have distinct ways of serving youth. The first is a retired athlete, Troy Blackwell, who played basketball and football for Mckeesport High School. He received Honors for his academic performance and received a football scholarship to the University of Tennessee. After his time in college, he played Arena Football for six seasons and one year of ABA Basketball. For the past 13 years, he has been active at his former high school as a mentor, coach, in school facilitator, Social Skills Teacher, and Community Outreach Liaison. He uses his experience in sports to connect with youth, to give them support to further their academic and athletic pursuits.
Our second speaker, Marcia Jones, is a retired High School Teacher. She worked at Wilkinsburg Area High School for 35 plus years and touched the lives of over 1000 students. Along with being a teacher, Ms. Jones was a School Board Member and engaged in policy efforts. Now, she is employed by Kelly Services as a substitute instructor. She teaches various courses at Woodland Hills High School as well. She volunteers her time in the Sisterhood Program, Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh. Her training is quite extensive, as she received her Bachelors of Science in Education at Clarion University and her Masters of Science in Education at Duquesne. Even after receiving her Masters, she continued to earn 40 post Masters credits at the University of Pittsburgh. Her love for education empowered her to dedicate her life to learning, as well as educating.
Both presenters are highly educated and passionate about empowering students in the classroom. They know the advantages of obtaining higher education and the doors it can open for students. Their spirit of giving back and passion for education touched the lives of our students and attracted some to explore careers in education. This session was very informative for our youth and pushed them to think about the educators in their own lives and those who impacted their academic trajectories. Students were also tasked with answering the question: “who are you?” as a way to reflect on their identities and to identify careers that aligned with it. Overall, students learned about the depth and breadth of the educational landscape and the impact they can make as educators.