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Jamari Green: ‘I Don’t Feel Awkward Here at All’

June 29, 2022 | Jeffrey Good

Jamari Green: ‘I Don’t Feel Awkward Here at All’ image

Lowcountry Acceleration Academy student Jamari Green plays a starring role in a new video project launched by Discovery Education and Boeing to encourage young learners to pursue STEM careers in aerospace.

Jamari, who identifies as gay, appears with a Boeing information technology specialist to explore the potential of a career in designing and building airplanes, satellites and lunar rovers — and to reflect on embracing every aspect of one’s self.

“How did coming out change you as a person?” Jamari asks Kassie Dugan of Boeing. Kassie responds that it freed her to be comfortable with who she is, not only in her personal life but also in her high-tech career.

“Because of that experience, I have a lot of empathy for people … I know what it’s like to be different and not fit in with the mold of society,” she tells Jamari. “We need lots of different perspectives to solve a lot of complex problems.”

Jamari came out at age 14 and embraces who he is. But for many reasons, his old high school never felt like home. In an interview for this article, Jamari said he was popular and did his best to keep up with coursework, but the crowded hallways, lack of personal attention from teachers, and one-size-fits all dress code took their toll.

“It was like a stampede of kids; you could barely move around,” says Jamari, 18. “I was struggling with school and how to find my way in life.”

Jamari found his way to LAA, a public charter school in Charleston, SC, that offers a personalized path to a diploma. “I don’t feel awkward here at all,” he says. “It’s more easy going and non-judgmental. I feel comfortable asking for what I need.”

That wasn’t the case in his previous school. Like many students, he hesitated to ask for help in class for fear that others would judge him. “I don’t want them to think I’m dumb — and I’m not dumb.”

English content coach Bria Burke-Koskela has been especially helpful, Jamari says. “I’m not good at writing essays,” but Burke-Koskela has sat with him to build his skill at developing a theme and then building on it with careful research and writing.

Graduation candidate advocate Janell Reyes has also given him a boost. “She helps get me going. I need a little push sometimes.”

While popular, Jamari said he grappled with homophobia and rude behavior by his old classmates. And he was frustrated by a school dress code that seemed designed to squash his individuality. “The dress code was overdramatic and I didn’t understand it at all,” he said, noting prohibitions on certain types of shorts, crop tops, spaghetti straps and the like. “Clothes kind of define you as a person; I take a lot of care in what I wear.”

There are no such prohibitions at Lowcountry; graduation candidates are encouraged to be themselves — and to help create a supportive, studious learning environment. “It’s a really calm atmosphere — a good place to sit down with your work and get it done.”

The flexible schedule makes it possible for him to work a full-time job at a restaurant, and to save for his plans of moving to New York City or Colorado. He’s exploring college and career paths ranging from life coach to Boeing statistician.

For Jamari, the sky is — you guessed it — the limit. “There’s so much out there that I don’t know about yet.”

Several high school students work on laptops inside of modern work space

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