Numerous MAS Staff joined a zoom call on Tuesday Night for the Wisconsin Association of Child & Youth Care Professionals (WACYCP) Youth Worker of the Year Award Show. This year was special, not just because it was a zoom call. It was special because our beloved Kaylin Jones was honored who passed away in June of this year. Without question, Kaylin deserved this award and her memory pushes us to be our best. We interviewed fellow staff member and friend Ms. Terri Ghee (8th Grade Science) to speak on the legacy of Kaylin’s impact.
What is your favorite memory of Kaylin at MAS?
The senior parade when the pandemic first hit. She was excited and determined to get to every single senior’s house. She was hanging out of the car and honking her horn in celebration of them. Kaylin wanted everything to be perfect that day. She loved those high school students and she showed much empathy for their situations. Highlights of this day were posted on the MAS FB page. It’s funny to see her that excited. I even saw one student in tears. They were happy tears.
What is one particular lesson learned from Kaylin?
What I learned from Kaylin, when you are working with youth, they always come first. No negotiation, no second thoughts. Put the needs of the youth first if you choose to work in this field.
What words would you use to describe Kaylin’s character?
Proactive, relentless, fearless, and servant
Do you remember any favorite stories Kaylin loved to tell?
I knew Kaylin when she was in high school. When she was my student, she was very hard to deal with. She was a fighter. She was hard to get along with. She always shared that with people, especially the scholars. They would say, “ohh no, not you.” But it is true, the Ms. Kaylin they knew never swore but when she was younger, she was a totally different person. I used to have to talk her off the ledge of wanting to fight people. But, that helped her relate to students more. She got who those tough kids could be in the future.
What is something you admire about Kaylin?
She was unreal about multitasking and handing so many things at once. After a stressful day, sometimes she would say, let’s get a strawberry milkshake. Then, we would sit down and she would start strategizing about how to elevate MAS. Even on Saturday night, she was talking about MAS or the church. Before Kaylin left the earth, we had weekly meetings, and we would go over our to do list. We spent a lot of our time working on that next level and knowing what that looks like. It wasn’t about being career driven, it was more about how we can reach more kids, maximize what we are doing.
Kaylin would tell me that she admired me. I was like…how??? She always complimented me saying that I made her think about being a teacher. She said I made teaching more personable and one on one. I said, “No, you doing what you do is better. Being a classroom teacher would limit you.” She didn’t feel like she had a lane. If she felt an adult wasn’t putting the kids best interest at heart, she would fight for the students.
How do you hope to honor Kaylin with your life?
I think about her all the time. So with virtual learning, I have struggled but I just think about Kaylin and the things she would tell me, think about the things the kids are facing, think about what they are going through. I keep her obituary in my car. I go into MAS sometimes and she helps me get to work.
The way I want to honor her legacy is continuing to work with youth by loving them and supporting them and building them and letting them believe in themselves for what they do. I want them to know we aren’t doing things just for data, but that we really care. Whatever their need is, that is what I want to do. Whatever grade level.
Kaylin wanted to be heard and she wanted to be felt. I hate that it had to happen this way because we take people for granted when they are here but I think people are hearing Kaylin and trying to honor her now and for that, I am grateful.