Mid-South Heroes: Teacher wears many hats to help kids see their potential

Updated: Dec. 26, 2019 at 6:35 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - December's Mid-South Hero is supercharged by his mission to help kids see their potential. So much so, that he's involved in eight student-centered programs at Bartlett High School.

Jaja Nebo teaches special education at Bartlett High School -- that's just one of a half-dozen hats he wears at the school, coaching and mentoring students.

"I'm the girls’ track coach, I'm the unified track coach, I'm a DJ for the prom, I do Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Best Buddies,” said Nebo.

Coach Nebo, or just Nebo as they call him in the halls, is a bright spot for many at Bartlett High.

"His enthusiasm is just dynamic around here. Everybody knows it. So, he's … you know, Nebo,” said Marianne Lenahan, Bartlett City Schools transition consultant.

It's not just a welcoming smile and personality that's won over the district, Nebo puts his money where his mouth is.

He's spear-headed a Special Olympics program at BHS, with kids playing on basketball, volleyball, bowling and track teams. Some of them even having success at the state tournament in Nashville.

And outside of athletics, it's his unorthodox teaching methods that stand out.

"My Functional Skills class, I teach math. And I realized these kids feel like sometimes, they can't accomplish anything because of their disability. Every Wednesday we pick-up anywhere from 500-600 chick-fil-a biscuits and we sell them. I teach them how to present yourself in real life and then I help them do the math also. So, I use the real life applications of chick-fil-a to what they will do when they get out of school,” said Nebo.

"You know all these kids need to go post-secondary and have some sort of tool box filled with things that they can make a living. He helps them make change, he walks them to the Xerox machine, shows them how to do that, the mail machine; the little things that you don't think about that you need as a skill in your life, and he does all those things for these students,” said Lenahan.

"I want to know, five years from now, where you gonna be at? My biggest thing is, am I teaching you the life skills that you need to succeed in life? If I do that, I've done my job,” said Nebo.

It's that love for the kids and the enthusiasm to improve their lives which makes you, Jaja Nebo, this month's Mid-South Hero.

If you know someone worthy of being called a hero, nominate them here.

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