The school year is upon us and as students are preparing for the new year, the YouthQuest team is gearing up for some afterschool fun.

Site Team Leaders – who oversee daily management of the YouthQuest program and staff – are currently working on lesson plans that cover everything from physical fitness and nutrition to youth development and career awareness.

Below is a brief introduction for each of YouthQuest’s Site Team Leaders.

Donna Tanner

Donna Tanner, Bentley Community Schools

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 6 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? Being part of the team that brings the YouthQuest program to a new school district – which happens to be the district I graduated from!
  • What are your hobbies? Reading, road trips and genealogy.
  • What is your favorite food? Papadum and mint chutney (Indian).

 

Jenna Ruiz

Jenna Ruiz, Brownell and Holmes STEM Academies

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 6 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? I am looking forward to meeting a brand-new group of students, welcoming back those we already know and joining them all together to show our school, families and community what great things the students at Brownell and Holmes YouthQuest are doing! We are planning great family nights, community engagement projects, service learning and daily enrichment activities that will take our program above and beyond.
  • What are your hobbies? I like hanging out with my two kids, Owen and Ava; playing with my dog Nova; reading; anything outdoors (walking, hiking, softball, soccer); cooking; baking; and watching TV about cooking and baking!
  • What is your favorite food? Mexican and anything spicy!

 

Kourtney Jones

Kourtney Jones, Doyle-Ryder Elementary

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 7 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? Building community relationships and growing our parent involvement
  • What are your hobbies? Drums, bowling, cards, corn hole, playing basketball with the students, dodgeball, cooking and shooting pool
  • What is your favorite food? Fish tacos.

 

Brook Borrow

Brook Borrow, Durant Tuuri Mott Elementary

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 4 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? I look forward to seeing the growth of the students in the program and having another fun year.
  • What are your hobbies? Crafting, baking, swimming and going on adventures
  • What is your favorite food? Pineapples or strawberries.

 

Jeniffer Pocza

Jeniffer Pocza, Dye Elementary

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 6 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? Servicing more students and creating lifelong memories for our students.
  • What are your hobbies? Spending time with my 2-year-old twin grand babies.
  • What is your favorite food? Spaghetti.

 

Brittany Miller

Brittany Miller, Freeman Elementary

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 7 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? Impacting the lives of Freeman students in such a positive way that they spread the word of YouthQuest to their friends and family. I am also looking forward to building my staff to be the best they can be and offering them opportunities for growth.
  • What are your hobbies? Coaching cheerleading, reading books (my favorite being “Wicked”), fishing and camping during the summer, and watching football and baking in the fall and winter months
  • What is your favorite food? Any type of macaroni and cheese! And pizza.

 

LaQuanda HammonsLaQuanda Hammons, International Academy of Flint (Elementary)

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 5 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? The new students and building relationships with them
  • What are your hobbies? Dancing, reading, poetry and signing songs using ASL
  • What is your favorite food? Lasagna with just mushrooms and cheese.

 

Shalana Taylor

Shalana Taylor, International Academy of Flint (Middle and High School)

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 5 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? Being as creative and fun as possible with our active participation, project-based learning and everyday interactions with the students
  • What are your hobbies? I have quite a few hobbies, basketball being the one I’m most passionate about. I love to dance, laugh, read and learn (yes, learning is a lifelong hobby). I also love writing creatively, allowing my imagination to express itself!
  • What is your favorite food? Breakfast at Captain Coty’s.

 

Michael Fortelka

Michael Fortelka, Neithercut Elementary

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 5 ½ years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? Being at a new site and working with elementary students
  • What are your hobbies? Sports, hunting and college football
  • What is your favorite food? Steak.

 

Valerie Newman

Valerie Newman, Northwestern High School

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 3 ½ years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? Getting to know new students. This will be my first full year with middle and high school students. I hope to keep them engaged, staying active and interested.
  • What are your hobbies? I love sports and traveling.
  • What is your favorite food? Tacos.

 

Miranda Manns, Pierce Elementary

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 5 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? In addition to our Black History Program, I’m looking forward to our Pre-Super Bowl Party with YouthQuest’s Neithercut site. By using the game as an opportunity to talk about statistics, we aim to help students connect math to life events such as the Super Bowl.
  • What are your hobbies? Walking, journaling and bowling
  • What is your favorite food? Bacon and chocolate.

 

Marjona Kemp

Marjona R. Kemp, Potter Elementary

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 3 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? I am mostly looking forward to building new relationships with day staff, families, CRIM, Potter community and all other stakeholders involved by creating new experiences and opportunities for youth.
  • What are your hobbies? Shoe shopping, poetry, laughing and being an agent of positive change
  • What is your favorite food? Mexican, Italian and Jamaican foods with a lot of cheese.

 

Willie Buford

Willie Buford, Randels Elementary

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 5 ½ years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? I am looking forward to seeing the excitement and intrigue of our students faces when challenged with new opportunities.
  • What are your hobbies? Playing basketball, debating and exploring music
  • What is your favorite food? I love pancakes and pizza!

 

Korie Harden

Korie D. Harden, Southwestern Classical Academy

  • How many years have you worked for YouthQuest? 5 years
  • What are you most looking forward to this year? Working with high school students. I previously worked with our elementary sites.
  • What are your hobbies? Watching Indian movies, Bollywood dance and traveling
  • What is your favorite food? Food is my favorite food. I am a foodie to the point where it would be easier to tell you what I don’t like.

YouthQuest is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.