Humanities teacher, counselor and writer Ayize Jama-Everett has strong feelings about giving students room to grow and learn. “I like seeing kids in their natural habitat, hearing them say, ‘Oh, I’m kind of curious about this. I want to learn more about it.’”
Helping to open two group homes for teens and working at a drug and alcohol rehab center deeply influenced Ayize’s thoughts on adolescence. “Adolescence is a time when it is totally OK to make mistakes and figure things out. Working with adolescents reminds us of that, but there’s pressure in a lot of schools to reign kids in, and not allow them that wiggle room…but at Bay, there’s a spirit of, ‘Alright, give it a shot! Try new things.’ That’s what I like about this school.”
It was during his time teaching at Oakland’s College Preparatory School that Ayize heard about Bay. “I had applied for a position at Bay and fell in love with the school. I just thought, ‘This place is awesome, this is where I want to work.’”
But, before signing on, there was one thing he needed to do. As Ayize notes, “I was at College Prep for ten years…in that time, I had a novel published, and I decided that I was going to take a year off and travel. I love getting out of the country and just seeing what the rest of the world is into.” He did just that during his year abroad, traveling to Kuala Lumpur, Zanzibar, Ethiopia and La Paz, Mexico, writing two more novels along the way.
Upon returning to the states, Ayize reconnected with Bay, applying for a position teaching humanities and Advanced Composition. His combination of skills – garnered from writing his sci-fi novel The Liminal People, teaching at College Prep and the Graduate Theological Union and working with teenagers – made him a perfect match for Bay.
Now in his second trimester of teaching at Bay, Ayize’s goal is firmly set: to bring even more of the real world into the classroom. “There are places where we can [interact] with the real world more. For example, in this trimester’s Advanced Composition class, I’m going to have the students publish their nonfiction pieces online.” Having to write for an outside audience, he says, makes a big difference. “Even the ones who don’t want to get feedback understand that, OK, this is what it means to publish something, to stand up to public scrutiny….It’s a really good way to get your foot wet in the water of life.”
Welcome to Bay, Ayize! Stay tuned for additional profiles of our new faculty and staff.