When Devon Range graduated in 2017 from the University of Chicago with his bachelor’s degree in Political Science, he could have accepted a lucrative career opportunity or gone straight to graduate school. Instead, he is spending two years in Slavic Village at the Fullerton School of Academics through City Year Cleveland. Devon assists in fourth and fifth grade classes with a focus on attendance, social and emotional growth, and coursework. Together, he and his students work on setting goals to drive better results inside the classroom and out in the world. His latest project involves starting a recycling program in the school.
Devon recalls struggling during his late elementary school years, having relocated from Cleveland Heights to South Euclid. Settling into a new school district wasn’t always easy. “Ages 9 through 11 were not my favorite years,” Devon recalled. Things changed for the better when Brett Spicer became his teacher and coach. Devon’s interactions with Mr. Spicer continued from junior high through high school. “I was having some academic issues in the 8th grade and Mr. Spicer sat me down and talked to me. He helped me make up work and get back on track. As a teacher and high school swimming coach, Mr. Spicer was great at team building and creating a sense of belonging”, said Devon. Over time, academics became a high priority along with success in athletics. During his years in South Euclid-Lyndhurst Schools, Devon participated in wrestling, football, baseball, and soccer, as well as concert and marching band, National Honor Society, and Academic Challenge Team, among other things.
Devon’s strong academic and co-curricular activities served him well, as he was accepted to attend the University of Chicago where he participated on the wrestling and rugby teams. After graduating with a political science degree, Devon decided to come back to Cleveland—lured back by the low cost of living as well as the proximity to his family. Devon’s father is a teacher in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and his mother is a vocational counselor. His parents’ commitment to education influenced Devon’s decision to work in the City Year program. As he looks to his future, Devon feels drawn to a career that combines his interest in the environment with public policy. In his free time, he volunteers at Holden Arboretum, learning as much as he can about the region’s tree canopy. “I spent so much of my time in the Cleveland Metroparks Euclid Creek Reservation growing up, it had a big influence on me”, said Devon.
In reflecting on his time in SEL Schools, Devon recalls often hearing misconceptions about the district. “Growing up, I heard how the schools were becoming terrible, which was so untrue,” recalled Devon. “I got a great education at SEL Schools which prepared me well for college and for success in life.”