What an exciting time of year August is! For students it means summer ends and the new school year begins.
Born and raised in Washington, DC, Jaylen Matthews and his mom reside in the Deanwood neighborhood in Ward 7. Like many teenagers, Jaylen enjoys playing soccer and video games, drawing and hanging out with friends. Jaylen is now a freshman at Archbishop Carroll High School and is looking forward to a successful year at his new school.
For Jaylen, attending a new school also means beginning a new daily commute. “My day starts around 5:30 am,” he says. “I have to ride the train and a bus to get there.” Every morning, Jaylen travels via MetroRail, bus and his own feet for ninety minutes. It’s not really a problem because he’s thrilled to be a freshman.
“I’m excited to meet new friends, and I’m happy that most of my friends are going to be in my classes, too!”
The transition from middle to high school doesn’t seem to be difficult for Jaylen. In his final year of middle school, he felt that he was being prepared for the next grade. “When I was in 8th grade, I had more responsibilities and my teachers expected more of me than when I was a 7th grader,” he said. Jaylen ended the school year on a great note. “I held up my part of the bargain when it came to getting good grades.” His mom, Mrs. Matthews, firmly agrees. “Jaylen did pretty good last school year. I’m proud of him.”
Mrs. Matthews has no doubt that Jaylen will transition into high school well, as the family is no stranger to successfully overcoming changes. “We became connected with Community of Hope in 2006. We were homeless before, living in a shelter on Park Road,” she shared. “Someone from Community of Hope came to the shelter and I really wanted to get accepted in their program. At this time Jaylen was young, and COH seemed very refreshing, like a new start.” After two interviews, the Matthews family was accepted to Community of Hope’s Hope Apartments, where they lived for 2 ½ years. Mrs. Matthews describes Hope Apartments as a place that provided her structure and held her accountable. After leaving Hope Apartments, the family moved into their own apartment in 2011. From there, we’ve continued to support their housing stability and help them reach their goals.
“Community of Hope gave us the start we needed to get back on our feet. It exposed us to a lot of different things and we got business taken care of – something that wouldn’t have been done without COH. [Hope Apartments] held our families together.”
One of the resources the family now receives is the partnership with a Youth Specialist – a liaison between families and the school system to ensure that kids are receiving the education and support services they need. Jaylen has been working with Youth Specialist, Solange Duran, for about 6 months now and says she helps him with his studies. “Solange has been a great help; she talks with my teachers to make sure I have everything I need for class.” Over the summer, Jaylen took two math classes – a requirement from Archbishop Carroll – and passed with an ‘A’ and a ‘B’.
With goals set for this school year, Jaylen hopes to maintain good grades. After graduation, he plans to go to college to pursue engineering and obtain a good job working with computers. “I want to be the best. I would say my mom and getting new video games are my motivations to do well in school,” Jaylen says. Mrs. Matthews agrees, encouraging her son that the better he does in school, the more opportunities he’ll have in the future.
We are all rooting for you, Jaylen!