Jamie Buckner-Bridges joins City Year Sacramento as the program manager serving St. HOPE Public Schools Oak Park Preparatory Academy and Sacramento Charter High School. She studied journalism and business at California State University, Fresno, but soon discovered her passion for teaching. She returned to Fresno State to earn her teaching credentials, and went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Leadership from American University in Washington DC.
Jamie was born and raised northeast of Sacramento in Lakeport, a small agricultural town. Her favorite things include marinara sauce, her dogs, camping, and rodeo. She is glad to be back in Northern California, interacting with the friendly people in Sacramento and exploring new restaurants. She is looking forward to a faster commute, finding a great Mexican restaurant, and going floating down the American River. We asked Jamie about her background in education and her service with City Year Sacramento.
While in my teaching credential program, I was a kindergarten student-teacher in a high-poverty area of Fresno. Afterward, I taught in a private preschool just a few miles away. I became "fired up" by the clear inequity when comparing the two educational environments. It was a very stark depiction of how zip code and income can change a child's opportunity to receive a quality education. With that "fire," I joined Teach For America and so began my path to service. I taught for four years in Washington, DC in high-need schools, and my passion for education equity drives my work with City Year.
Why did you decide to join City Year Sacramento?
My husband and I decided to return to California from Washington, DC to be closer to our families. In my job hunt, I found City Year and after a little research, I quickly became an admirer of the organization’s mission, structure, and results. It's my privilege to be a part of the Sacramento team! I'm humbled and thankful to be serving City Year and the students at Oak Park Prep and Sac High.
When you were a student, what was your favorite subject?
I really loved chemistry. My teacher made our learning very hands-on and joyful. I still remember burning different elements and observing the different colors of flames. Once I understood atoms and how everything interacted and fit together, I felt like I had a whole new perspective on the world.
Did you have a favorite teacher or mentor growing up? How did he/she make a difference in your life?
My mentor was my grandfather. He was brilliant and had a way of making everyone feel special at every opportunity. He was an optometrist and I could walk into his office at any time, even in the middle of an appointment, and spend time with him. I learned a lot by watching him take time for people. He could also explain everything in a way that was understandable. My Papa taught me to believe in my worth, the value of integrity, and to take time to celebrate people and nature's beauty.
If you or someone you know had to describe you in one word, what would that word be?
Determined. Once I set a goal or get an idea in my head, I have a "where there's a will, there's a way" attitude about achieving it. I've also been accused of being stubborn! But those two characteristics are probably related.
What is your favorite City Year value and why?
My favorite value is “Students First, Collaboration Always.” I'm a firm believer that if you keep the best interest of children at the center of your work, you can't go wrong. A team of passionate people, collaborating around a common goal, and all aligned by a students-first attitude, creates a powerhouse for change, and that is a beautiful thing!