Student of the Month: Creative Studies sophomore wise beyond years
Mattiyah Jones, a sophomore at the School for Creative Studies, appears much more mature than her 14 years.
And leaders of her school confirm that it’s not just an act for a visitor.
“She is a young lady who is wise beyond her years,” Assistant Principal Andrea Hundredmark said.
Hundredmark, who was among the team of teachers and principals who nominated Jones for the honor, also noted Jones’ impassioned sense of civic responsibility and compassion for schoolmates.
“She goes out of her way to initiate programs and clubs that help other kids,” Hundredmark.
One such initiative Jones helped to bring to the school is Tithe One On or (T1O), which is a national program that recognizes students for acts of kindness.
Hundredmark said Jones is also a mentor for middle school students, offering a compassionate ear and mature advice.
“She’s a 35-year-old trapped in a 15-year-old’s body,” Hundredmark said.
Last month, Jones was among a group of students from the School for Creative Studies who participated in Chris Rosati’ Big Ideas for the Greater Good (BIGG) challenge.
Jones and her schoolmates dressed up as superheroes and visited children at the Ronald McDonald House.
She said the experience was a satisfying one.
“I was the Black Widow,” Jones said. “It was nice seeing the smile on the kids’ faces and watching them correct their parents when they called the superheroes by the wrong names.”
She added: “Being able to sit there with a kid and have an impact on their parents, seeing a smile on the parents’ face because their kids were happy, made it worthwhile.”
Jones also attended summer camp at the Durham YMCA where she helped camp counselors with K-5 campers.
“I wrote a song for the kids and they loved it,” Jones said. “I liked the kids. They were so funny and would always give me hugs.”
Jones will be in the first graduating class of the School for Creative Studies, which opened last summer in the former Chewning Middle School.
The 6-12 school, whose curriculum focuses on digital media and creative design, only goes up to 10th grade but will add a grade each of the next two years until it reaches grade 12.
“I came to this school because my mom knows I was creative,” Jones said. “I like to make things, put things together and draw. [My mom] felt like it was a good fit for me and believed it’s a school I will excel in.”
She represents the school on the Superintendent’s Council, an honor of which she is especially proud.
Jones has her sights set on becoming a neuroscientist and also wants to minor in special education when she goes to college. UNC Chapel Hill and Howard University have her attention.
“Both of those focus on kids who have learning disabilities,” Jones said. “I’m dyslexic and have ADHD.”
Jones said her disabilities were discovered in the second grade.
“I’ve graduated out of my IEP [Individual Education Plan],” Jones said. “In five years, I went from a second-grade reading level to a 10th-grade reading level.”
She said both disabilities made school difficult.
“I would feel like I couldn’t do anything right,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t want to read in class. I wouldn’t want to write or do my writing homework because I knew it wasn’t good enough.”
By middle school, Jones said she had begun to try harder, read a lot more, which lead to better academic outcomes.
She said an eighth-grade teacher at W.G. Pearson Magnet Middle school, advised her to “just read, read, read.”
In addition to reading more, Jones also grew fond of writing poems.
“My writing helped me increase my understanding of things,” Jones said.
The self-described tomboy said she likes football (She’s a Steelers fan) and cars and noted that she owns a dirt bike, a four-wheeler and a go-cart that she has driven since age 7.
“I know how to ride all of them,” Jones said.
DUKE UNIVERSITY DURHAM PUBLIC SCHOOLS STUDENT OF THE MONTH
School: The School for Creative Studies
Favorite Book: Fascinated by The Guinness World Records book
Favorite Music: Hip hop/Jazz
Favorite Movie: “Fast and Furious” series and most action adventure flicks
Clubs: Spoken Word Club, Chorus