Northwestern High School graduate Kamora Harden found her passion during her second year in Summer Youth Initiative.
“I worked at Super Summer Success reading program (through the Flint Public Library),” Harden says. “It was my first opportunity to work with children. Working with the teachers, I realized that was something I could do.”
Now, Harden works for the Genesee Intermediate School District Head Start as an associate teacher for the 0-to-3-year-old classroom and is working toward completing her Child Development Associate (CDA) certification.
She has found a love of educating children and plans to continue on that path.
“After completing my CDA, I would love to go back to school for a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education,” Harden says. “I want to continue to learn and connect with children no matter what I do.”
Describe the path to your current position.
I attended a job fair through GISD and was chosen to interview for a position with Head Start. I participated in four interviews where they asked me about my story and what made me want to work with children. After those interviews, I was hired on as classroom support and then was promoted to associate teacher in less than a year.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the way you do your job?
It has made us re-evaluate how we do everything. Working with babies, a lot of your job involves holding them to comfort them. It has been a whirlwind trying to find new ways to work with families. But we are committed to our families. Our work becomes more than just a job—it’s a way to build long-lasting relationships.
How did the lessons learned through TeenQuest help you?
TeenQuest helped me learn how to work professionally. Also, the connections I made have stayed with me throughout the years. When I was pregnant with my son, I was out of work. I had several people from the program reach out to me, trying to connect me with jobs and just checking in to see how I was doing.
How did TeenQuest help shape you?
I was a speaker for my TeenQuest session’s graduation. It helped me learn how to speak up and not be nervous in front of a crowd. I thought I could be the next motivational speaker – and I probably still could, but I am focused on my small people [children] right now. [laughs]
What advice would you offer current TeenQuest students?
Use it as a first step and make it what you need to be. I didn’t know how working with the Mr. Roger’s Garden Program would help me in my career today, but now I am able to teach my students about nutrition.
What has been your proudest moment since graduating from TeenQuest?
Seeing my former teachers at my job now and having them see how I have settled into my career. People don’t usually see the after-effects of their impact on people’s lives. But when they see me with my students, it’s all because I was a part of something that allowed me to be that.
TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles StewartMott Foundation.