Caleb Neal, Relationship Manager on Building Relationships
As Lumity’s relationship manager, Caleb Neal deserves a ton of credit for Lumity’s success. He helped launch our STEM Career Prep program with our partner schools and grew our pilot pre-apprenticeship program to what is now STEMWorks.
For Caleb, Lumity’s work is all about building positive relationships–and we agree! As Caleb explains, “When working with students, if you are trying to teach them skills—or a book from front to back— it doesn’t matter if you don’t connect with them. All your teaching goes out the window later on if you aren’t meeting kids where they are and you aren’t forming a relationship with them.”
Caleb’s strong bond with Lumity youth is what also helps them to be successful beyond our programs. For STEMWorks, Caleb helps prepare our young adults to step into STEM-related jobs and mentors them throughout their first year. Many of his former students have now been promoted and/or are enrolled in a STEM degree program. And they often give Caleb a shout-out for helping them. As Cortorian Causey, a Lumity participant and now Bank of America employee, said in our conversations with him, “Caleb really helps, so that you don’t have to figure out everything on your own.”
Relationship building sounds obvious and easy, but that is not always the case. With remote learning this past year, many educators across the country are struggling with reaching and engaging students. There have been thousands of education articles, blog posts, and interviews about this topic (Lumity has a post about it, too!). When asked about these widely reported challenges, Caleb was candid. “Not being able to interact and engage with students in person this past year has been different. But I’m not sure if it’s been more or less challenging,” says Caleb. “The key for me is being myself, whether I’m in person or online. Kids can tell when you are faking it or you are overthinking trying to connect with them. The key is to be genuine.”