Tyler Linhares currently serves as the College Access Unlimited AmeriCorps*VISTA at Blackstone Academy Charter School. Tyler is designing and improving the school’s existing college access program by designing a curriculum on the ACT; leading a scholarship club for students; planning parent events; designing resources on the FAFSA; and scheduling college visits.
Host Site: Blackstone Academy Charter School
Where did you go to school? Rhode Island College
What are your personal and professional interests? My biggest personal interest is music. I always loved listening to music as a kid. Putting on my headphones and my favorite mix of songs burned onto a CD was enough to take me anywhere. I picked up piano when I was in high school and eventually started making my own music, allowing me to give back to the art that has given me so much. Other than that, I love playing tennis, swimming, longboarding, talking too much, and eating delicious food.
Professionally speaking, I am interested in counseling high school students. High school is a difficult time for a lot of students. There are so many changes going on in pretty much every arena of life, and it can be a real struggle. I want to help adolescents through these issues, and also combat some of the stigma surrounding mental illness.
If you could have any super power, what would it be? Flight. No doubt about it. I want to fly.
Story of Service:
I sort of fell into my service. It started with me going to a presentation as a requirement for my previous job. There, I met Kerry Condon who was presenting on college attainment and persistence for Providence students, a topic I was already interested in. I talked to her after the presentation, she mentioned opportunities to serve at VISTA in the areas she was talking about, and I thought it sounded perfect. Honestly, I didn’t know much about the VISTA program or what I was applying for, but I knew it was an opportunity to serve in something I’m passionate about. Everything took off from there, and I was lucky enough to end up at Blackstone Academy Charter School.
Blackstone, a relatively small high school in Pawtucket serving students from Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence, was impressive and unique from the moment I first walked in. There’s a college wall where every student gets to put their college acceptance letter up for the world to see. There’s another wall dedicated simply to college information packets, handouts, and more. There are countless years of experience in the field between the staff. There are teachers and staff that are dedicated to their students and willing to go above and beyond for them (and who are crazy smart). There are the students, who are just plain awesome. There is an incredible college-going atmosphere. There’s trust between the staff and students. There’s this guy, Doc, who’s just hilarious to talk to.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Coming in as the new guy, it was super intimidating stepping into a school that does so much right. However, I quickly found my role at Blackstone Academy and stepped into it, fully supported by my supervisors.
Blackstone is currently in the middle of an expansion that will double the amount of students it serves. With this expansion comes a new set of challenges. Current college-related processes that work for us now with a small class size will not work with twice the number of students. Much of my role has been to evaluate how the college process works right now and put into place necessary changes to ensure that Blackstone will continue to do what it already does so well: provide its students with a top-notch high school experience that will push them to achieve their dreams. Most of our students are low-income, first-generation students who need this type of high school experience the most. This is vital to closing the achievement gap.
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve at Blackstone. Coming from the Pawtucket school system myself, I know personally how poverty can impact one’s educational outcomes. I now have the opportunity to serve in the community I came from, which is something special to me. I get to help students who are in the same situation that I was in to have access to something I never did. You can’t beat that.