r. Brendon Jobs summons each class with a strike of his gong and a deep inhale of fresh air into a meditation exercise. Bringing the world into the classroom, Mr. Jobs leads each class with a unique style.
For the past five years—history teacher and director of Haverford’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts—Mr. Jobs has been at the forefront of making Haverford a more equitable and inclusive space.
Mr. Jobs taught in Philadelphia public schools for ten years before coming to Haverford in the summer of 2016.
Being one of few Black queer educators at Haverford shaped his journey of connection and belonging.
Mr. Jobs was there when the Diversity Alliance was just beginning to emerge into the organization it is today.
“I have always been different from the norm. Having the Diversity Alliance as an organization was huge. Students came up to me to form all the affinity groups that exist today,” Mr. Jobs said. “I wish they were more heavily attended though. But the fact that existed meant a lot to me as a black queer educator. Connecting to one another as human beings is central.”
In celebration of June’s Pride Month, Mr. Jobs spoke of visibility and personal reflection for him as a Black queer educator.
“When I started teaching in 2007, I was told very clearly that in certain schools in the Philadelphia region, people would be fired if it was found out that they were gay. It was really stressful to hear that entering a classroom space,” Mr. Jobs said. “Because of who you are and who you loved, you potentially couldn’t do this job. Living into your authentic truth was seen as a criminal activity.”
Mr. Jobs is well known for teaching Modern World History, the elective Modern Black Lives, and for his distinctive teaching style that is heavily emphasized on freedom. Focusing on the processes of colonization and economic transformation, the history department allowed Mr. Jobs to transform his curriculum to adapt and apply to modern-day society and youth.
“Mr. Jobs has that energy,” upper school Spanish Teacher Ms. Susana Lambour said. “Even watching him teach was really cool. He never raised his voice and always was in command of the room without being authoritarian. That was his space and everyone followed the vibe.”
Despite fighting many battles, Mr. Jobs encourages everyone to dedicate time to self-reflect and prioritize mental health.
“If you are a student at Haverford, whether or not you’re noticing systems of oppression or combatting them, I think that a byproduct is taking a lot of stress and worry. It creates this spirit of disempowerment within students, which is one of the worst things students can feel being voiceless,” Mr. Jobs said. “We need to keep breathing to continue to make tomorrow better. It’s not just about this fighting motif, it’s also about building awareness and a healthy sense of self.”
Throughout his journey here, Mr. Jobs discovered many supportive people who fought alongside him for change.
“…when I got to Haverford, there were so many thoughtful colleagues and faculty members who questioned practices that offered me direction and guidance.”Mr. Jobs
“I thought that I would be the only one working towards institutional improvement. But when I got to Haverford, there were so many thoughtful colleagues and faculty members who questioned practices that offered me direction and guidance,” Mr. Jobs said.
Mr. Jobs will be the next Upper School Director at Abington Friends School.
Although nervous, he is excited to make the learning experience at AFS deep, meaningful, and transformative.
“Moving from this role at Haverford to be the director of the Upper School at Abington Friends School is a big leadership challenge for me,” Mr. Jobs said. “I’ve been working all these years to create more space for more people in this institution around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, but now I feel like I get to do the same type of work but on a much broader scale, with faculty members, parents, students, and alumni.”
Many other faculty members express gratitude for Mr. Jobs’ unwavering dedication and leadership in DEI work.
Spanish teacher Ms. Lambour facilitated faculty SEED sessions with Mr. Jobs and developed their friendship when they went to the NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC). She is going to miss everything about him, from his energy and guidance to handling situations or just listening to others.
“I admire everything about Mr. Jobs; he’s brilliant and humble. When he’s around, he has this calming effect and confidence that things are going to be okay,” Ms. Lambour said. “His voice is beautiful; he always is sincere, genuine, and has the best interest of everybody in mind.”
History Department Chair Ms. Hannah Turlish also expressed a deep connection with Mr. Jobs.
“I’m very grateful for the time I worked with him. I wanted to hire him three years before we hired him because I knew he was very special. His perspective on the world, framing issues, talking about all perspectives, was a real gift,” Ms. Turlish said.
Mr. Jobs has built many personal relationships with his students, often discussing life in the hallways and asking what is new and good.
“Mr. Jobs is the very reason that I am able to find peace amid the chaos of life and the struggles it will hurl your way. He would take his time to talk to me, to look after me, to ask how I’ve been feeling, and to give me the breathing space I needed and take time for myself,” Sixth Former Nachikethan Srinivasan said. “Mr. Jobs also helped fuel my desire to speak up on issues that mattered to me, personally, and to the others around me.”
Mr. Jobs is seen as a role model and mentor to many of his students.
“He always seems to be able to contribute something positive to any discussion he is a part of, and I will personally miss spending time with someone like that. I have aspired to be more mindful; mindfulness being something that he has taught me and constantly demonstrates,” Fourth Former Roch Parayre said.
Despite the fact that Mr. Jobs’ schedule is booked for meetings almost every day, he still dedicated time to lead tough conversations in every sphere of the school.
“Running SEED sessions with Mr. Jobs was one of my favorite things, and especially unpacking what we heard after. These conversations, although heavy, felt better after we had them.”Ms. Lambour
“Running SEED sessions with Mr. Jobs was one of my favorite things, and especially unpacking what we heard after. These conversations, although heavy, felt better after we had them,” Ms. Lambour said.
Through reflecting on his time here, Mr. Jobs has high hopes and aspirations for continual change at Haverford.
“I hope Haverford continues to be a place that creates more space for more people. From 1967, when the first Black graduated [at Haverford], it’s been a space that has challenges of being more diverse and truly integrated in terms of policy and curriculum,” Mr. Jobs said.
The more integrated a school community can be, the more welcoming it is for people who identify differently from the norm.
While Mr. Jobs will be missed by many, he will miss his students and Diversity Alliance even more.
“I’m going to miss my students and specifically the Diversity Alliance. All the years have been an interesting student-leadership challenge, but this group this year has been insightful, thoughtful, diligent, and engaging of the community around them. There’s so much potential for where the school can go from here. I’m going to miss seeing what these kids are going to do,” Mr. Jobs said.
When asked about advice for students at Haverford, Mr. Jobs, with the unmistakable sound of his laughter, emphasized his biggest lesson in life.
“Don’t forget to breathe. Tomorrow exists.”