Christina King Joins Service-Learning Staff, Offers Extensive Experience in Serving Youth

Christina King is one of those rare individuals who radiates happiness and exuberance no matter the occasion. Whether on a sunny Friday afternoon or a gloomy Monday morning, she offers a welcoming smile and friendly banter. These personable characteristics make her easy to talk and work with, qualities extremely important in her new role as youth service program coordinator for the MU Office of Service-Learning. In this role, she will act as liaison between community youth program agencies and MU students to facilitate service partnerships.

“I’m glad to be here,” says King. “I have the belief that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there. I think my skill set and background will help me to do a great job of serving the community in this position.”

King is indeed highly qualified for the role. She received her bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from Georgia State University, with a minor in Public Relations. She obtained her M.Ed. from Cambridge College, with an emphasis in school library media. She’s been an instructor at nearly every level of education, serving as a library media specialist in Title I primary, elementary and high schools. She also served as an adjunct professor of technology integration for prospective teachers at Clemson University.

“The only similarity in my experiences as an educator in public schools was that the majority of the students were part of a minority,” King says. “I loved that aspect because I felt that I could share what I knew best with those students.”

King says she connects with minority students because she understands deeply what they go through each day, having been in their shoes.

“I moved to the States when I was 12 years old,” explains King. “I was born in London and then spent several years in both Guyana and Trinidad, the birth countries of my parents. I spoke English, but I had an accent; there were cultural differences and stigmas, experiences you don’t truly understand unless you’ve been through them.”

One memory that King reflects back on often is the teasing by her schoolmates about her accent.

“They would always ask me to say this or say that, because they thought that I spoke funny,” says King. “Really quickly, I wanted to lose my accent. I told my mother, ‘I don’t want to sound like you anymore.’”

The memory serves as a powerful lesson in King’s cultural assimilation and a reminder of why she is so passionate about her career.

“I use my assimilation experiences to help my students,” she says. “I often seek out students in similar situations and let them know it is O.K. to be different. I tried to give them opportunities to teach the classroom about their cultures and their literature, because all children need to be represented. It really drives what I do.”

Although she won’t be teaching students in her role as youth service program coordinator, King will continue to use her knowledge and experiences to build on culture and literacy in other ways, namely through creating more opportunities for literacy programs and initiatives in the Columbia community.

“My goal for this year is to meet, learn and discuss,” King says. “I want to meet with community partners and learn about what they are already doing. From there, I want to develop initiatives that further support what already exists. Together, the Office of Service-Learning, the community and MU students can maintain and grow youth programs.”

To schedule an appointment with Christina King, go to MU Connect and search “service-learning.” To learn more about the MU Office of Service-Learning and its programs, visit www.servicelearning.missouri.edu.