Chris Justin has been an integral part of the Habans community since joining the founding team in 2013. As the 6th/7th grade Science and Intervention Teacher at Paul Habans Charter School, Chris has dedicated the past five years to getting his scholars excited about science during the school week. In that time, he has also dedicated every Saturday to getting young men in the community excited about learning at Father’s House Kids (FHK).
Father’s House Kids is a resource for six to eighteen-year-old at-risk youth. Located in the Esplanade Ridge neighborhood of New Orleans, the organization provides an opportunity for young men to participate in activities geared towards improving their potential of leading successful lives. The group provides opportunities for them to participate in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) and educational activities geared to increase their interest in math, science, and cultural history.
Chris has volunteered for many of the programs FHK offers, and he uses his love for science to tutor kids outside of his classroom. On the day we visited FHK, 15-20 children were there rotating around different activities. They spend about an hour at each station learning something new. Some were in a woodshop class, building wooden key holders, others were learning about health and nutrition in the gym. Chris was teaching his kids about chemical reactions. He spent the first portion of the class teaching them about what creates a chemical reaction, and then he led them outside where they could test their own chemical reactions. With each reaction, the kids would stand in amazement of what was happening. Chris would shout out a question, making sure they had listened during the start of class, and with excitement in their voices, every kid would erupt with the answer.
When asked why he spends every Saturday there, after a long week in the classroom, Chris shared what motivates him. “As an educator, I get to be apart of the great impact and positive change that occurs in children when they know that they’re accepted and valued; when they know that they’re safe, protected and cared for; when they know that all of their basic needs will be met, and when they know that they will be held to high expectations and given direction for their future,” he says. “At FHK, kids know that they’re valued, that their needs will be met, that they’re going to be held to high expectations and that they’ll receive the training and work skills necessary to enter the workforce in the future and lead successful lives,” he adds.
His commitment to both Paul Habans and FHK is something he knows will have a last impact on the community. “I am committed to my community because I believe that the young men I have an impact on are truly being transformed from “Boys to Men, Men to Husbands, and Husbands to Fathers.”