2014-02-25

Corps Member Highlight: Kristan Coleman

By Martín Hernández, Corps Member, Walmart Team at Stevenson Middle School

We, the Walmart Team at Stevenson Middle School, have colloquially dubbed our team “Special Ops” and it is something we take very seriously. Being a “Special Ops” team means we are calculated and we are precise: but more than anything, we think on our feet and outside the box.

My teammate and dear friend Kristian Coleman gets up every morning at 4:15 a.m. to make her way from the city of Gardena to commute via public transportation to our school in Boyle Heights. The sights she sees on the bus are very different than what she would encounter back home in Detroit, Michigan. “Being 1,500 miles away from home takes its toll, but I find strength in knowing that I’m not in this alone,” Kristian says. But it is our team who usually finds strength in the work Kristian does.

It is impossible to know Kristian without knowing the creativity that she holds so dear. From photographing our team during power greetings, to sketching comics for our City Year room, to running the Arts and Crafts Club in our after school program, Kristian is instrumental to keeping things imaginative and whimsical, something she infuses into everything she does.  No one knows this more than the students Kristian works with.

It’s been tough figuring out how to use my skills to reach the students, but every day I’m making strides.” Kristian says. “Being a student who struggled with math all through high school, it wasn’t until I started measuring darkroom chemicals and cutting presentation mats in college that I really grasped mathematical concepts.” So when Kristian encountered a student who also struggled with math, she got crafty. “[He] absolutely loathes math, but is a musical genius in the making. I expressed to him that until you start understanding time measures and musical composition, you won’t reach your full potential, and that takes grasping mathematical concepts. He picked up his pencil after that and got to it.” Through this, Kristian was able to relate math to one of her student’s passions, which in turn motivated the student to work harder in class. She’s happy to report that he is doing significantly better in his math class.

Kristian is a prime example of how team “Special Ops” works here at Stevenson. By taking the varied background of skills that we possess, we’re able to make precise and targeted moves to help our students while having more than a little fun along the way.

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