Reunion volunteer Melissa Stites, MISPH BS ’09, caught up with classmate Jaren Michael Longmire, CCAS BA ’09, to ask about what he’s been up to since graduation, and his plans to attend his 5 year reunion at Alumni Weekend 2014!
What have you been up to since graduation?
I’ve spent the last five years in Baltimore, working in education reform both inside and outside of the classroom. After joining Teach for America in 2009, I taught for three years and got to see amazing growth in a great group of kids, some of who were facing life challenges I had never experienced before. I attended their eighth grade graduation recently and couldn’t have been prouder knowing how far they had come and that I was able to help shape their path during a pivot point in many of their lives. I used this first-hand knowledge to expand my impact after becoming a full-time teaching coach with The New Teacher Project and helped develop over 27 new teachers teaching more than 500 students over the next year. Last year I went back to Baltimore City Schools as a district strategist in human capital, working at scale to implement the types of staffing, selection, recruitment, and evaluation strategies that will help bring in and retain effective teachers committed to their students’ outcomes in the same way I was. One of the upshots of working in education reform in a medium-sized city like Baltimore facing big city problems is that you can be part of large-scale impact work while staying intimately connected to the work you began in the classroom. In some ways it feels like it’s come full-circle.
How did your experience at GW help shape where you are and how you got there?
Education was not an obvious choice for me while at GW. I had majored in political science and international affairs, and had taken a special interest in conflict and security. However, it became clear through both my studies and the indomitable “ever-in-the-know” culture at GW that there were systemic issues stemming from underdevelopment, failed public policies, and racial and social inequities that had created many of the issues that gave rise to the issues we were studying in history and in the news. When I volunteered for the D.C. youth court while at GW, I saw how some of these same issues manifested locally and domestically. Through volunteer opportunities, I gained a healthy appreciation for turning the GW “spirit of service” into action. GW’s sense of community, embodied in its supportive staff and professors, showed me that it really does take a village, and in turn, I worked to pay this sense of compassion forward with my students and their families.
What is your fondest memory of GW?
Too many to choose just one! Midnight monument tours, shopping at the Watergate Safeway and bumping carts with local politicos, dark basement frat parties, Coney Island frozen hot chocolates, Fray concerts, storming the White House on election night, winning “free” happy hours at McFadden’s, making lifelong friends… the list is endless and the memories priceless.
Why are you excited about/Why are you returning to campus for the class reunion/Alumni Weekend?
Why else! To make new memories and relive old ones. Some friends and I staged a mini-reunion at last year’s alumni weekend and were amazed at how much we had done since graduation. I can’t wait to hear about the multitude impact our class has already had on education, nonprofits, business, politics, medicine, law, and other fields in these all-too-short five years. Here’s to looking back, pressing forward, and living it up like its 2009 again!
We’re looking forward to seeing the class of 2009 and other reunion years at Alumni Weekend 2014!