Power of Change: Shanina
When a young person walks from BART to the B:E office, they must go up and over the long ramp on Hegenberger Road, leaving plenty of time for thoughts and emotions to flood their mind. They might be thinking about what they want to accomplish, what they are trying to get over or simply clearing their heads before meeting with B:E staff at B:E. Shanina Shumate, Senior b2b Program Coordinator here at B:E, keeps the symbol of the ramp in mind when she first meets with a young person.
For the last five years, Shanina has helped young people navigate the Peralta community colleges – ensuring that students complete a training program or transfer to a four-year university. She often reflects on how many students have walked over that ramp and made the conscious decision to reach out to her and B:E, and how coaching has played a role in that.
Coaching is one method that B:E uses with young people. Coaching at B:E is a teaching, training and empowerment strategy to help clients gain clarity, build confidence and explore solutions. Our belief is that the person closest to the problem is closest to the solution. We believe that every young person is creative, connected, resourceful and whole and through coaching clients are able to identify with those strengths. Coaching supports young people to uncover their own answers inside themselves.
For Shanina B:E’s coaching approach informs how she engages with young people. Shanina describes her coaching approach as the power of change and believing that young people can change in time. With time all students have the opportunity to reveal what’s inside of them. During her coaching sessions, she helps young people identify personal goals and develops a trusting relationship where students feel heard and supported. When she first meets a young person she greets them with a smile, a high five, a hug or a song – an important step in building a relationship with a young person. Her coaching sessions always have an open agenda and students can talk about what is going on in their lives.
“The thing I loved is they were able to just listen and understand. They checked on me and kept me motivated and said, ‘You can do it,’” explains B:E alumni Christopher.
Shanina enjoys seeing the “Aha” moments happen when coaching young people in the b2b program. One young man Shanina was working with was struggling with school and wasn’t taking it seriously. He told her that he had been in school too long and had not accomplished anything; he was getting D’s, F’s and W’s. She coached him, asking questions on what these grades were telling him. Through this he came to the realization that education was not a priority for him. In this “aha” moment, he made the conscious decision to make education his number one priority. He started going to school full time and working part time, and his grades improved.
Many young people in foster care do not have a traditional K-12 experience. With the instability of numerous home placements, education is not a priority. One recent study of foster care alumni revealed that at age 24 only two percent had a college degree. Through coaching, Shanina helps young people overcome this instability and dim statistics. Shanina explains, “Coaching allows young people to own their own walk or journey. We are here to facilitate and process their journey. It’s the most beautiful thing when a client owns their journey, even the mistakes.”
Our hope is that, after a coaching session at B:E, a young person can walk back over that same ramp on Hegenberger and feel empowered to make decisions that forward their personal goals. Walking over the ramp is just one step on a long journey, and Shanina and our staff accompany young people on this journey, supporting them to succeed long term.