Life coaches push for student success at Youngstown school

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As a life coach, Tei'asha Simms said it is their job to not only support but build genuine relationships with the students

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Life coaches at the Academy for Urban Scholars in Youngstown are going above and beyond for students.

They are working to bridge the gap between academics and a student’s life at home.

“Everybody here has somebody. That’s something that’s great because you can find anybody who you can connect to, that you can build with, right in this building. Everybody is just here for you,” said Life Coach Tei’asha Simms.

The Academy for Urban Scholars in Youngstown has been around for six years. The foundation of the school is focused on the three es: enrollment, enlistment and employment.

“We’re very close-knit and family-oriented here,” Simms said. “So, because we have a small number of students — we’re at 215 — it’s very easy to have that one-on-one contact and build that support.”

As a life coach, Simms said it is their job to not only support but build genuine relationships with the students.

“We have like a mother-daughter relationship, so it’s like, I can go to her about anything and just talk to her,” said student Erykah Jennings.

Jennings, a sophomore, is one of Simms’ students. She believes that life coaches are needed in every high school to give your mind some clarity.

“Because you like… you get built up… and sometimes, you just need to let off that energy, and that’s the person who I let out my energy,” she said.

“We’re the people who are trying to figure out why you are not coming to school, and if you’re coming to school, why are you struggling in the classroom, or what is going on in your life that’s making you or having you resist from being successful?” Simms said.

Another engagement coach at the school, Allen Underwood, said growing up, he didn’t have any mentors at the school.

“It would just feel like, go home, talk to your parents. Talk to whoever you can to get extra help,” Underwood said. “I remember my mom trying to get a tutor because I didn’t feel like I got that extra help I needed inside of the schools.”

Underwood wants to be a life coach he never had and to teach these students the things that he wish he would’ve learned earlier.

“We are expected, and we are encouraged to push the norms — to go out and look for different ways to engage our students, to encourage our students and to bring excitement into the classrooms,” he said.

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