Meet Dr. Lyndi King, JTG Specialist at Riverside High School
Years in Education: 10
Degrees/Colleges: Bachelors- UT Martin, Masters- Union University, EdS and Doctorate- Trevecca
What motivated you to join JTG as a Specialist? When John came to RHS for the first time and started talking about JTG and what it was and did for kids, I knew it was the program for me. I have had a long-standing passion for helping students find their way to college and career and to have better lives than they have had growing up.
How would you describe your student demographics or community? Why is this program needed for them?
Our community is very rural and is 56% students living below the poverty line. We have students that live in tents, campers, shanty houses, and mansions with everything in between. Our students that are living in poverty need this program because they need a way to get out of the life they’ve been raised in. Our students that live in affluent families need this program because of the life skills it offers that they may not get a chance to learn at home. Honestly, this program needs to be offered to EVERY single senior in the state of TN.
What have been some of the most rewarding aspects or experiences you’ve had as a Specialist?
I LOVE watching students grow! Students that have had chronic absentee problems and have been discipline problems, are doing so well and are coming to school every day! I love watching kids figure out what they want to do in their lives and how they want to get there. Every student in my JTG class brought their ACT score up this fall simply because we talked about it being important to always try our best and to work towards goals regardless of what they are!
Why is a trauma-informed approach to teaching so important, especially right now?
Every single one of my students have trauma in one form or another. Kids go through so much more now than we did when we were kids. I have a handful of students that I made a deal with that if they could keep their comments and outbursts to themselves until the lunch block, they could come in my room and shut the door and say whatever they want to say in the safety of our space. This has turned in to a type of therapy group for some of the students and has been so beneficial to them. One of my students even told me that it was more helpful than the therapist she paid for.
What are your favorite units or lessons to teach as a Specialist?
My favorite lesson was Hands-On Banking. The students were so shocked at the cost of everyday things like groceries and rent. We also loved our “reverse career fair” and mock interviews.
What units/lessons/experiences do your students look forward to the most or enjoy the most?
My students look forward to our visitors from different industry and hearing about the different colleges, careers, and branches of the military they can be part of.
How could you describe your students from Day One to graduation? What changes do you see over the course of the year?
I have seen so much change in my students since the beginning of the year. Although graduation is still quite a ways away, I know that they have learned valuable skills during our time together that will lead to future success. I also know that most of them will still be in my lunch time therapy group every day whether they’re in my class or not!
Can you tell us one or two particular success stories you’ve had with a student or students?
One of my students, Bailey, missed over 60 days of school last year, sending her to truancy court 6 different times. She spent 25 additional days in alternative school last year as well for fighting and disrespect. This year, except for being quarantined, she has only missed three days of school and has not spent a single day in alternative school. She says it is all because she knows if she just keeps it to herself until fourth period, she can let it out without getting in trouble and someone will listen to her. Her grades have increased tremendously, and she brought her ACT score up three points. She looks forward to coming to school because of JTG and lunch therapy and loves running the “Snack Shack” store.