Over the past four years, Nadia Selby has brought her energy, compassion, and infectious laughter to three Citizen Schools campuses in Boston. Her Citizen Schools career began in the fall of 2007 at the Mildred Avenue Middle School in Mattapan, a neighborhood of Boston. Nadia, who had been living in her hometown of New York City, decided to join the Citizen Schools’ team after hearing stories about the organization from a close family member. Moriska Selby, Nadia’s cousin and Massachusetts Managing Director of Program, shared stories about her work at Citizen Schools on visits home to New York City. Nadia was intrigued by her cousin’s excitement and passion for her work, who at the time was a Teaching Fellow at the Dever-McCormack Middle School. Already contemplating changing schools, Nadia decided to transfer to The University of Massachusetts-Boston and apply to work at Citizen Schools. Four years later, Nadia is the new Co-Campus Director at the Irving, where she will leave her mark on 200 more students in Boston. Nadia was also recently awarded the Tulaine Shabazz Marshall Village Building Award, exemplifying her extraordinary community building efforts throughout her time at Citizen Schools.
Before Citizen Schools, Nadia’s youth education experience was mostly informal, although her early involvement with youth illustrates her ability to bring young people together and build community. In New York City, she ran the youth program at her church, and orchestrated neighborhood activities such as a double-dutch competition with the young people in her community. Her creativity and energy was a wonderful addition to the Mildred team. After serving as a part-time Teaching Associate at Mildred Avenue Middle School, Nadia moved to the Gavin Middle School in South Boston, continuing her role as a Teaching Associate. She then joined The National Teaching Fellowship Class of 2010. The deep relationships Nadia built at the Gavin with teachers, families, and students, both as a Teaching Associate and then as a Teaching Fellow, made her a perfect fit for the role of Campus Director. When Brent Holsinger, Senior Campus Director at the Gavin decided to leave, Nadia applied for the position.
When learning about Citizen Schools, the apprenticeship program was the biggest pull for Nadia because she was fascinated by the concept and “wanted to see how it actually worked.” Although originally drawn to Citizen Schools because of the apprenticeship model, she has continued to work at Citizen Schools because of the meaningful relationships she builds each day. Nadia believes “you can’t get anywhere unless you have relationships with students.” These relationships are the foundation of her work and last long after a student leaves the program. One student worked with Nadia for three years, first at the Mildred and then the Gavin. When she began Citizen Schools, this particular student struggled with academics and Nadia kept in close contact with her family. Over time she developed a strong relationship with her family, and even attended the student’s quincinera and other family events. In her efforts to improve academics and self efficacy, Selby first establishes mutual understanding and respect with her students. She finds that once you build this foundation “students know what you expect, trust you, and you can build from there.”
As a Teaching Fellow, Nadia wore many hats and improved her multi-tasking skills, from cleaning up the cafeteria after program to arranging meetings with the school guidance counselor. After expressing interest as a Teaching Fellow in the Campus Director position, her supervisor Brent Holsinger, gave her leadership opportunities and a chance to test out the role. Nadia appreciated the diverse experience and skills she gained during the Fellowship, and as a Campus Director “she wants to empower her staff to get as much as they can out of Fellowship and prepare them for the future.” She tries to provide professional development for her staff that is tailored to their future interests and career paths. This year, one of her Teaching Fellows expressed an interest in classroom teaching, so Nadia gave her specific feedback on her classroom and behavior management techniques. As Nadia moves forward, she is excited to build relationships with her new staff, and is thrilled to get to know the 200 new families and students at the Irving. In the future, Nadia hopes to pursue a graduate degree, possibly in guidance counseling, but for now she is focused on the academic year and the new challenges and adventures it will bring.