Jason Easterly (parent of Kendall Easterly, Class of 2024)
We are happy to continue our Community Spotlight series, which highlights Whitney Young Community members making an impact on the world around them.
Our next profile is Jason Easterly, who is a current Dolphin parent (to Kendall, Class of 2024). He was featured in the Chicago Tribune in June, as a community leader who founded the Juneteenth Bronzeville Bike Ride.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your experience so far as a parent in the Whitney Young Community?
I do a few things to keep myself busy, I suppose. (smile). Professionally, I am a Systems Architect for Cisco. I’ve been in the role since January, and have really enjoyed the challenge! It allows me to utilize my I/T experience while exposing me to the large scale sales cycle. It’s completely different from anything I’ve done in my 20+ years in this field. If I could describe it, I would say it’s like drinking from a firehouse with the amount of information that’s thrown at me on a daily basis. LOL! I also do some personal training and lead some group fitness classes, focusing on cycling and kickboxing.
As far as my experience with Whitney Young, it’s been fantastic! Needless to say, all of us have been trying to adjust to the “new normal” as a result of the pandemic. But, Whitney Young has done an incredible job helping the kids (and parents) have as pleasant of a high school experience as possible.
You organized and led hundreds of cyclists in the 2nd Annual Bronzeville Juneteenth bike ride this summer. It was a gorgeous, important day with a beautifully diverse group of riders! What are your thoughts about its impact on our Community, and have your goals for the ride changed for next year?
When we talked about doing the ride last year, our goal was a simple one: let’s get out of the house and ride our bikes. You have to remember where we were at that time….we had been locked up in our homes for about three months due to Covid-19, and George Floyd had been murdered. Tension was high, and many of us were extremely frustrated with all that was going on. We thought the bike ride on Juneteenth would alleviate some of that tension along with bringing awareness to Juneteenth (the annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the US). Little did we know that it would become such a tremendous success, and become so popular!
Did you have leadership or community service goals in high school? What were they? Have your definitions of achievement, leadership, or community impact changed?
I participated in track & field and basketball in high school. I was the captain of my track & field team. Being a leader (back then) wasn’t what I aspired to. I was honored that my coaches and teammates felt I was worthy of such a responsibility, and I never took it lightly.
When I think of a leader, I feel like they need to allow their performance to be of higher importance than their actual words. It’s the best way to establish respect with those who see you as a leader. Sha’Carri Richardson, the sprinter found guilty of using marijuana and was disqualified from the Summer Olympics, is a great example of this. We applaud her confidence, Sha’Carri. Since her disqualification, she has taken to social media to challenge her competition. But, at the end of the day, her performance on the field has to be what makes her relevant. And, with several losses since returning to the sport, Richardson has had some challenges.
What would you say is the most critical piece to building Community at Whitney Young? Is there something you would change if you could?
Putting the children's best interests first in everything we do is most important. We have to remember why they are here, why we (the parents) are here….and that is to prepare the kids for the next level.
The name Whitney Young in itself is synonymous with excellence, and it shows with the types of students who have attended the school. I think that comes from the administration and our community looking at the kids as the primary focus.
What advice would you give to other parents regarding their involvement and role in our building Community?
GET INVOLVED! Don’t rely solely on the school to carry out the education of your child. What makes this school so great are the people involved in getting our kids ready for the future….and that includes the parents, too! There are some incredible educators here, but they need OUR help to make OUR kids great adults. Track & field has been a passion of mine since I was young, so I was extremely excited when Kendall took an interest in the sport. It also gave me an opportunity to not just help with his growth and development, but with the growth and development of his teammates.
I am extremely honored to be a part of this community, and look forward to working with the Whitney Young family for the next three years!