Ask Jeffrey, a student at Salem High School (SHS), about LEAP for Education, and he will tell you, “the best thing about being part of LEAP is that you have, like in a family, people who support your goals, who are willing to help you, a very nice atmosphere and a place full of opportunities; it’s a place where you can go if you need some advice or help.”

Jeffrey hopes to attend Salem State University (SSU) and study graphic design. He is an artist who spends his spare time every day drawing, painting, or making digital art. He is serious about his art and works to improve his skill by taking art classes, studying human anatomy and learning how things work. Right now, though, Jeffrey’s “spare time” is at a premium, because he also participates in the Salem High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC (ROTC) program.

Prior to the pandemic, Jeffrey would stay after school for tutoring or ROTC before heading to LEAP later in the afternoon because, as he says, LEAP is “one of the best places to hang out, meet people and get assistance with homework or any questions I have.”

Jeffrey believes in giving back to his community, which he does through his participation in ROTC. Through LEAP, Jeffrey is an active participant of Early College (a collaboration with SHS, SSU, LEAP and MassHire), and LEAP’s Teen Center programs, including EL Street, which helps English-language learners improve their writing, reading, and speaking skills, and Brothers for Success, a peer support group that explores opportunities and challenges for male-identifying students. During summer 2021 Jeffrey was a Teen Center intern. He has also been part of the Making the Caribbean Connection program through Essex Heritage and the House of the Seven Gables, which helps bridge the gap between life in the Caribbean and here in Salem.

As life slowly returns to its pre-pandemic routines, Jeffrey sums up what coming to LEAP means, “for me, it’s a good feeling to walk through that door and be greeted with a ‘good morning/afternoon.’”