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Senior Spotlight: Jadyn Becoats, Page High

Jadyn BecoatsDuring her junior year, while interning at Cone Health and looking into going into nursing, Jadyn Becoats changed her mind.

It happened one morning before classes at Page High. She walked into her mom’s bedroom and told her.

“Mom, I want to be a teacher,” Jadyn said.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” her mom asked.

“I do,” Jadyn responded.

And she will.

After she graduates Saturday, June 10, from Page High, Jadyn will major in elementary education at UNC-Charlotte and become one of the university’s 20 Levine Scholars.

It’s UNC-Charlotte’s premiere merit-based scholarship, valued at $105,000 per North Carolina student. It covers all college costs –– meals and books, housing and tuition – and provides additional funding to support professional development and civic engagement to improve their leadership skills in a globally connected world.

For Jadyn, her leadership will first blossom in a classroom.

But why education? Let’s begin with a fifth-grader named Andrew.


‘My Heart Just Melted’

Jadyn BecoatsBy her senior year of high school, after moving from nursing to education, Jadyn became part of Page High’s Teacher Cadet program. She started as a teacher’s assistant at Page High. But that didn’t feel quite right. She figured younger students might be better.

Jadyn chose Jesse Wharton Elementary because she lives, as she says, “five seconds” from the school. On her first day, she discovered what she describes as an energy that felt “so lively.” She knew then she was in the right place.

She started working with third graders. She later moved on to fifth graders. The teacher asked her to work one-on-one with the red-haired boy sitting off to the side in a desk, away from the other students. He needed help in math, the teacher told Jadyn.

That’s how Jadyn met Andrew.

They worked on math problems for 30 minutes. As he started to understand better what he was doing, Andrew began tapping his pencil on his desk and smiling. When Jadyn finished, Andrew just beamed.

“I really love working with you, and I can’t wait to see you tomorrow,” he told her.

The next day when Jadyn walked toward Andrew’s class, she saw him in the hallway heading toward the bathroom. When he saw her, he stopped, wheeled around, and headed straight toward for her.

“Ms. Becoats!” Andrew exclaimed.

They hugged.

That happened seven months ago. That moment sticks with Jadyn.

“My heart just melted,” she says today. “It was because of the expression on his face. His cheeks were scrunched up because he was smiling so big. He was really happy. That’s when I fell in love with (teaching). I realized the kids appreciated me there.”

Teaching comes naturally to Jadyn. Just look at her family.


Jadyn’s Genetic Link to Education

Jadyn BecoatsFirst, her parents.

Her mom, Dr. Jocelyn Becoats, is a retired longtime school administrator with Guilford County Schools; and her dad, Dr. Eric Becoats, is currently the superintendent of an 11-school district outside Philadelphia.

Next, her siblings.

Her sister, Iman Cook, is a counselor at Hairston Middle School; and her brother, Braxton Becoats, is a sixth-grade teacher in Charlotte.

Finally, her maternal grandparents.

Ruby Bethal, her grandmother, taught in Lenoir County for 36 years. Grady Bethel, her grandfather, was a physics teacher, a principal, and a basketball coach in Lenoir County. In Kinston, the gym floor at Woodington Middle School bears the name of Jadyn’s grandfather, the man she called “Grandpa.”

“I think it’s in my blood,” she says of teaching.

But why the switch from a hospital to a classroom?

“I woke up one day and thought, ‘Be a teacher,’” she says. “The night before, I was thinking about life, and I’ve heard so many things about nursing and how long it takes to get to the higher levels. It’s a lot of work.

“Then, I started thinking about the rest of my family, and what they were doing, and I thought I should try it. I tried it, and I’ve fallen in love with it.”


To Lead Is to Help

Jadyn BecoatsTeaching may come naturally to Jadyn. But so does leadership.

She was the Senior Class Vice President at Page, and helped create an organization known as LUX, the acronym for Ladies of Unmatched Excellence.” As president of LUX, Jadyn explained her responsibilities in her Levine Scholar application.

“This club is an outlet for females to discuss issues that hinder them from learning, growing, and becoming responsible students,” she wrote. “As the president of the club, I use this opportunity to provide guidance and encouragement to other females who I know have the ability but may need more support.”

Since her seventh-grade year at Mendenhall Middle, Jadyn has participated Guilford County’s Teen Court Program.

Teen Court hears cases involving students charged with various misdemeanors and gives them the chance to participate in programs that can get their charges dismissed and their juvenile criminal record expunged.

Jadyn has spent two years as a clerk of court and four years as part of the jury on most Tuesday nights in Greensboro. Teen Court happens three times a month at 6 p.m. at the Guilford County Courthouse before going to High Point one Tuesday a month.

In her seven years with Teen Court, Jadyn has learned everyone deserves a second chance.

“Somebody always wants the best for you,” Jadyn says.


Jadyn’s Motto

Jadyn Becoats As a Levine Scholar, Jadyn wants to create a Teen Court program in Charlotte. She has seen it work in Guilford County. Since starting in February 1999, the Teen Court’s success rate averages between 96 percent and 98 percent.

In her scholarship application, Jadyn explained she believed a Teen Court in Charlotte would help decrease the number of young Black men going to prison.

“This program will hopefully begin to address the significant number of men who find themselves as victims in a system that is rooted in racial injustice and racism,” she wrote. “Hopefully, this will help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and increase the opportunities to advance the credit-to-college pathway.”

Jadyn knows the importance of that pathway.  Just look at her own web of support.

It’s her parents and her siblings. They guided her.

It’s the people at her church, Calvary Christian Center. They helped her learn how to be honorable.

It’s counselor Michelle Sims and principal Erik Naglee at Page High. They helped her see why being approachable, positive, and having a little fun helps connect any educator with any student.

Ask Jadyn about that, and she mentions Sims.

“First, she is a woman of color who always has a good attitude,” Jadyn says. “I have never seen her mad or sad. And she has fun getting people to go to class. She’ll walk the halls and say, ‘Good morning! It’s a great day at Page!’”

Now comes Jadyn’s next level of support. It begins with the Levine Scholarship as well as a scholarship from Delta Sigma Theta, the sorority her mom belonged to as an undergraduate at N.C. State.

Jadyn feels ready. Yet, she’s forever mindful about what she needs to do. The signs in her bedroom remind her of that.

On one wall is “Laugh As Much As You Breathe, Love As Much As You Live.” On the other wall is “In A Field Of Roses, She Is A Wildflower.” By her door is her favorite, a gift from her mom. It reads: “She Believes That She Could. So, She Did.”

They help.

“By hearing something or seeing something every day, I can believe in myself and have confidence,” she says. “It helps me get through the day. You only live once. That’s my motto. You only live once.”