On April 5, College Possible Philadelphia High School Coach Tika Jones was awarded the City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Award for Distinguished AmeriCorps Service! Tika works with juniors at Murrell Dobbins Career and Technical High School, one of Philadelphia’s two new partner high schools this year.
“It was great to be recognized, not just for the work that I’m doing but for the work that we’re all doing,” Tika, who was a College Possible student herself, said. “I was really proud to say I was serving with College Possible.”
Tika has already achieved a lot of success working with her students, helping them increase their SAT scores by 12 percent over the first three practice exams. But her service is about much more than just scores. One of her students, Jabriel, is in the top five of his class and has a broad range of interests, including robotics, business and psychology. Though he is a strong student, conversations with Tika have helped him work on developing his organizational skills and study habits.
“She had a talk with me about the things I do,” Jabriel said, “I can be lazy at times.”
Tika’s dedication to her students was what led Eric Bumbaca, a program coordinator at College Possible Philadelphia, to nominate her for the award.
“Tika Jones embodies the tenets of an outstanding volunteer: steadfast optimism, persistence and the desire to enact local change,” Eric wrote in his nomination. “Not only does she produce amazing results with her students, but she does so with determination and positive energy.”
For Tika, being recognized for her service with College Possible is all the more meaningful because she was in her students’ shoes in high school and college. Tika was a first generation college student, and there were times when she had a hard time imagining herself earning her degree. College Possible’s support made a difference to her, and she appreciates the opportunity to make a difference for students like her.
“I express my gratitude through service,” Tika said, “That’s what it comes down to.”
Tika received the award as part of Philadelphia’s Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service, in a ceremony with Mayor Jim Kenney and service leaders from Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Kenney spoke about the particular importance of service in Philadelphia, which has the highest rate of poverty of any large city in the country. The mayor recognized nominees and winners representing a wide range of service organizations and projects across the city.
Tika stressed that service with College Possible is a team effort. “I’d like to thank everyone at College Possible for the support and love,” she said.