Jainah Camille Clark couldn’t wait to be born, so she came into this world in the bathroom of her parents’ house in Memphis, Tennessee. “I didn’t quite make it to the hospital,” she explains with a laugh.
Raised in north Texas, she grew up in Denton, “Home of the UNT Eagles!” she is quick to point out. Miss Clark was happily raised with three siblings: older brother is Joshua, 27; younger sister Julieh, 23; and youngest brother Joseph 19.
“Miss Clark,” as her students in Lake Highlands call her, told people she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up, “But I don't know if I actually believed it would happen though until I started working at Youth Believing in Change.”
She graduated from Sanger High School, “Home of the Sanger Indians!” and then attended Ohio Christian University where she’s currently pursuing a degree in Christian Ministry Leadership. She attends classes on line, and “I am counting down the days until graduation!” She looks forward to that day in August.
Although she doesn’t have any children of her own yet, she has served in youth ministry for the past seven years mentoring and discipling teen girls in the urban context. Miss Clark says, “They are my spiritual daughters.”
She says, “The Lord has placed a huge desire in my heart to shape the minds of His children both spiritually and academically. I love to walk beside kids as they pursue the Lord. Their hunger for God and education is an encouragement to me.”
She began working at YBC with the 5th and 6th graders in August of 2016, and has many great memories of her time at YBC already but admits, “I really enjoyed the Bowling event with YBC last year in November. It was so fun to get to know the students and staff outside of the classroom. I truly had a blast, even though my students did indeed beat me in bowling that day!”
Another fun day she remembers was last year when she met one of her favorite artists, gospel musician Jonathan McReynolds at his concert. Reynolds began his music career in 2012 with the release of Life Music via Entertainment One Music and Light Records. The album charted on three Billboard charts: The Billboard 200, Gospel Albums, and Independent Albums. His second album, Life Music: Stage Two, peaked higher on all three charts in 2015.
Gospel Legend Kirk Franklin says, "He is ?the future of gospel music...the freshest songwriter I've heard in years."
Miss Clark remembers, “That was a really fun day for me. And one day I would love to meet another one of my favorites, Janelle Monae. She is my celebrity friend in my head.”
Surrounded four days a week by her other favorites, Miss Clark is especially proud of her YBC students. She says, “I was pleasantly surprised to see how much they really enjoy reading. They are very interested in books of all types. We have a lot of donated books but we can always use more!” She knows that more bookcases would also be warmly received.
She is happy to check help each of her students with their homework, learning new vocabulary words, and singing songs of praise on Thursdays. The kids come from different schools both in the DISD and Richardson Independent School District. Some are from homes with single parents. Many are from other countries: refugees looking for a safe home to live in and a community where learning isn’t discouraged or dangerous, but encouraged and fun.
At 5'9" all Miss Clark’s students—and most of her co-workers—look up to her, because, for a woman, that is pretty tall. The average woman in America is about 5’4”. However, Miss Clark says, “Everyone is always shocked to find out that I am actually the shortest one in my family. Everyone else, except my mom and I, are 6'2" and up.”
A lover of art, she also loves to bake. “I don't have this down to a skill yet, but my goal is to take up cookie and cake decorating as a hobby.” That’s a sweet goal, but her students already think she is pretty sweet.
Youth Believing in Change (YBC) is a 501©3 non-profit after school program located on Stults Road in Lake Highlands. It is free for children ages 3 to 17. Volunteers are always welcome. Scouts needing an Eagle Scout project are encouraged to contact YBC. Church groups and individuals are welcome to come and tutor the students from 4:30 to 5:30. Donations are also welcome.
For more information on Youth Believing in Change or to donate, see the website: www.ybcdallas.org
Or contact the office at 214-692-9242 or e-mail program director Angela Gaddis at firstname.lastname@example.org
YBC has an annual dinner, An Evening of Change, May 4, 2017 from 6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. at Highland Park Presbyterian Church (Elliott Hall) — 3821 University Boulevard, Dallas, 75205. This year's keynote speaker is the new Dallas District Attorney, Faith Johnson. For tickets or more information call 214-692-9242.