Building Community, Building Lives

PYB gave me the confidence to finish high school and go somewhere in life.

Derrick, age 23

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Mar 30 2015

PYB Alumni Spotlight: Chris Craig

PYB Alumni Spotlight: Chris Craig
Prior to enrolling at PYB, Chris Craig had dropped out of high school as a senior when he was 18. School was boring and the lure of making money in the real world was just too strong. Finding a job was never a problem for Chris, but at age 22 he realized his retail job of four years wasn’t leading him where he wanted to be. He decided that to help broaden his options, he would need to finish high school.

When Chris came to PYB he felt comfortable right away – which was different from his previous school environment. The schoolwork was familiar, but this time he felt surrounded by a nurturing community of teachers, staff, and students who really cared about him and his future. 

He never expected to discover his dream would be to become a teacher himself.

His biggest inspiration was his PYB teacher at the time, Jodie Stasi. During Jodie’s class one day, Chris was helping tutor another student when Jodie pulled him aside. She told him she could see his undeniable gift for teaching and encouraged him to consider it as a career.

Academically, Chris excelled. As a construction student, he loved feeling the immediate sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. For him, it felt great being able to work outside with his hands and see tangible projects completed with his work crew.

PYB gave him a sense of community and smaller classes meant that he got to know people very well – like a family. Chris did have his own immediate family supporting him while he was growing up, but before PYB he never experienced the support of a larger community behind him. This, he says, was vital to his experience.

In 2008 Chris graduated from PYB and enrolled at Portland State University to pursue his dream of teaching. He took it slow and worked a variety of odd jobs to pay the rent. One of his jobs he enjoyed was a PSU work study position, coordinating the local S.M.A.R.T. reading program at Atkinson Elementary.

Now, Chris has his own young family that includes his wife and their two-year-old son. Chris graduated from PSU in December 2014 with a BA in English and a minor in writing. Chris is still pursuing a career in teaching and is currently working on getting his teaching credential while teaching at the Buckman Elementary SUN school program.

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