Albert Pollard 21ST CENTURY COORDINATOR, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House. In his ten years with Jacob Riis, Albert Pollard has held many titles. But the one he carries with him regardless of position is that of “Sensei,” a martial arts term meaning “one who has gone before,” meaning teacher, in the best sense of that word.
In addition to his 35 years of martial arts experience, Albert brings to his students a genuine desire to listen, a dedication to family involvement, a respect for boundaries and differences, and a real commitment to seeing young people succeed. As coordinator of the 21st Century Program at IS126 in Long Island City, Queens, Albert utilizes the same foundational philosophy he instituted in 1995 at the agency’s first organized recreational program and later at the IS204 Beacon program: build discipline and structure into this component of each young person’s life, and it will carry over into other aspects as well.
In his role as Program Coordinator, Albert insists on spending a large portion of his time working directly with young people. He provides homework help, teaches martial arts on Saturdays on a volunteer basis, and develops close working relationships not only with the young people but with their families. In fact, the principal of IS192 attributes the significant increase in parent attendance at school events to the personal relationships Albert and his staff develop with area families.
Albert’s positive example combines warmth, gentleness, and caring with a firm hand and professional demeanor. He brings a storehouse of life experience, being a former U.S. Marine, engineman, elevator mechanic, and NYC transit road car inspector, to all interactions with the young people he helps guide through the transition from teen years to young adulthood. A true team player, Albert has earned the trust and respect of the young people and colleagues he continues to inspire every day.