Our mission is more than simply serving students while they’re in middle school—we aim to equip and mobilize young leaders for a lifetime of service in their communities. We want to train our YOKE Folk not only to do YOKE better, but also to be better leaders, neighbors, spouses, parents, citizens, and employees. Some of our favorite stories are those that involve YOKE Folk being better equipped for their future careers because of their time serving with YOKE.

Jacob Adams has served on the Union Grove YOKE team since 2016, and graduated this spring from Maryville College. Although he had known for some time that he wanted to teach English, Jacob credits YOKE with his decision to teach middle school. “When I started applying for jobs, I only applied for jobs at middle schools because volunteering with YOKE showed me just how important the middle school years are in a student’s development,” he explained. “I’ve also seen that there is a lack of strong male role models for many middle school students, and I want to be that for them.”

We’re happy to announce that Jacob recently accepted his first full-time position. He’s excited to be teaching 8th grade Language Arts at Gresham Middle School, the same school that he attended. We’re also happy that he plans to stay involved with YOKE at Gresham while teaching there.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with students both as a teacher, and as a YOKE Folk,” said Jacob. “I was fortunate to be a student teacher at Union Grove while serving as a YOKE Folk there, and I was able to see a side my students that teachers don’t often see. When they are outside of the classroom environment, they really light up and be themselves. The fact that I’ll have that extra opportunity to interact with students will enable me to have a greater impact on the students there.”

Jacob will soon marry fellow YOKE Folk, Haley Cloud, who served with him at Union Grove and also graduated this year from Maryville College. It was Haley who recruited Jacob to join the YOKE team at Union Grove, and they have enjoyed the opportunity to serve together during their courtship. Haley also plans to stay involved with YOKE and attributes her desire to work with children to her time with the organization.

“It’s been really cool to see how Haley and I operate together in a team setting,” Jacob said. “Since marriage is a team effort, I feel like our years serving together have been good preparation.”

YOKE is looking for young adult leaders to serve middle school students for the fall semester. If you’d like to become a part of a community that serves together while investing in one another, we’d love to hear from you. Fill out our online application, or contact program director Eli Cockrum at eli@yokeyouth.com with any questions.