Jasmine Hembree has climbed the ranks of the Youth Services department at New Community for nearly a decade.
During that time, Hembree has become an indispensable member of the staff and earned the respect of both colleagues and her students, according to Director Edward Morris, who supervises Hembree’s work as the site coordinator for the department’s after school program and summer camp.
“Jasmine is extremely dedicated to the well-being and development of the children we serve. She’s well respected and appreciated by everyone. She is a valuable asset to Youth Services,” Morris said.
Hembree said that it was her aunt who first introduced her to New Community’s work. She started off as a teen mentor in her first year. The next year, the position for a teen site coordinator opened up after a staff member left, but meanwhile Hembree had her mind set on applying to become a counselor. However her boss, Morris, had a different idea, according to Hembree.
“He said, ‘No, I have a better position for you,’” she recalled. For the next three years, Hembree served in that position and looks back on that step in her career as a turning point. As a college junior at the time, Hembree said she was tasked with her first job that required significant responsibilities such as taking a lead role and supervising others.
“I learned a lot and gained my confidence because of it,” she said. “I realized I can be a leader and not always be told what to do.”
Eventually, Hembree transitioned into her current role as the site coordinator for the department’s summer camp, which usually enrolls more than 100 children and takes them on various trips, and the after school program, where she oversees 30 students at New Horizons Charter School. Her duties also include creating schedules, programming, booking trips and giving input in the hiring process of staff.
During the school year, Hembree spends the first half of her day working at an elementary school in Plainfield, where her roles vary from substitute teacher to teacher assistant.
For Hembree, working with every age group has its own unique perks. She has worked with youngsters who are infants (she previously was employed at a daycare for six years) all the way up to teenagers. Each group requires a slightly different skill set, but Hembree’s concern for their well-being, no matter how her day is going, remains steadfast.
“I have to be there for their needs and I am dedicated to that,” she said.
She has learned that most students will respond to an authority figure that displays genuine concern for a child or youth by taking time to hear them out.
“Even if I don’t understand, I’m still going to listen. I’m still going to love them,” she said.
Hembree earned her bachelor’s degree in English and said that she plans to apply to graduate school to become a social worker.