Cynshae Freshman Student

Cynshaé, a freshman at Sullivan High School, admits the transition into high school was not easy. As she explains, “It’s been hard. I’m not used to so many people since I went to a small school before.”

Cynshae also lives on the South side of Chicago and commutes two hours to go to Sullivan because she wanted to go to a more diverse high school and was really interested in their medical program. 

The Freshman Seminar at Sullivan, taught using Umoja’s curriculum and coaching, has really helped her stay focused and understand what’s important in high school. She appreciates both the content of the lessons, but also her relationship with the teacher. She says, “I love Ms. Johnson and I love that she teaches us different things about college and life. Learning how important GPA was in one class really helped me. We got to read stories about real life students and talk about what you would do if you were them. It taught me that I need to improve my grades to get into the medical program and avoid taking summer school, because I want to work this summer…Usually freshmen just walk in to high school and they flunk many classes, but we have someone guiding you and looking at your grades with you and telling you what you’re missing and how to fix it.” 

Cynshaé has also experienced Umoja’s Restorative Justice program at Sullivan and appreciates what that brings to her school. In her words, “It makes Sullivan more of a calm environment. Even though people might argue and rarely fight, it gets broken up very quickly and they have a place to go to resolve it.”

She first came to the Peace Room because of a conflict with another student in class. But having the Peace Room to help resolve the conflict helped her see the other person’s side and prevents further punitive action, like suspension. As she explains, “It’s been helpful because it solves my problem before they start. Once you fight you’re getting suspended and you’re going to miss school. It’s important to have someone there to help you solve the conflict between you and others. The Peace Room helps the situation become a two-way mirror, not just looking in the mirror at your own experience. I have also learned to think before I speak.” 

Cynshaé’s first five months of high school are already setting her up for success. She’s about to start her first job at Lou Malnati’s and knows lessons from the Peace Room and Freshman Seminar will come in handy there!