School Serving: Clyde Arbuckle Elementary & Adelante II Dual Language Academy, San Jose, CA
Hometown: Salinas, CA
What made you decide to join City Year?
I recognize that although education should be a right, the education I received was a privilege. I joined City Year for my cousins that did not make it to college. I joined for my brother who is at risk of dropping out of high school. I joined to help more students be successful. Everyone deserves to be proud of their education.
I am a first generation Mexican-American who grew up in a bilingual household and was privileged to have a mother that spoke English. Despite being afforded many privileges like citizenship and the ability to speak the English language, my family was limited by their lack of education to help me navigate the American education system. There was also a point in my life where I saw my educators more than I saw my parents. They motivated me, reinforced my successes and offered me many opportunities to expand my horizons.
With City Year, I can help by being a friendly face for students who need a safe space to learn. I can help by being a model for students who has dodged similar obstacles that many marginalized groups in society face. My students can see themselves in me and say, "If she can do it, I can do it too."
Why are you committed to serving with City Year?
City Year provides interventions for students at most risk of dropping out. Once a student reaches tenth grade, their risk of dropping out multiplies. My brother, Rafael, is in tenth grade and is an alternative curriculum doing independent study. He displayed many red flags of dropping out in the past and I often find myself wishing he would have had City Year's support. I wish he would have had the opportunity for a targeted intervention. Instead, I feel that the education system failed him. There needs to be a change and City Year starts to address those issues.
I serve because my community, my family, and I fit the profile for students at risk of dropping out. I serve to show students and the rest of the world that success is possible.
How do you know you are making a difference?
I see growth in my students every day. They read a little longer, a little louder, and with more fluency as the time passes. There are students who were shy at the beginning of the school year and are now happily raising their hands to share their input during a STEAM lesson. I see them becoming young scholars. Aside from educational growth, I see them improving their socio-emotional intelligence as well. I have seen grumpy-cats become class clowns. One student who would wallow about how lonely they were at the beginning of the year, is now regularly engrossed in a game of tag with others during recess. I have had students who were constantly bored become innovators for brain breaks. We support the whole child, left and right side of the brain, and it is amazing to see them grow in almost every capacity.
What does it mean to you to have Bain Capital sponsor your team?
Our team provides invaluable support to the community by providing a space for students to extend and enrich their knowledge past normal school hours. This would not be possible without contributions made by Bain Capital. I appreciate that Bain Capital asks how they can support us. For a team of hard working young adults, the answer is usually food. However, sometimes it looks like asking for opportunities for professional development. Bain Capital's contribution allows the City Year at Arbuckle to function a little more smoothly, whether it's because the team is operating on a full stomach, the children are happy to use new materials, or the parents are content to know their kids are being well taken care of in a productive space.
Please share a Starfish Story.
I have a student, David who reminds me a lot of my brother Rafael at his age. At the start of the year, he was several grade levels behind his fourth-grade classmates. Like my brother, he was quick to distract and quick to anger. My brother would make a large drama to distract from all the trauma he was enduring. Students are not taught social emotional skills, and in communities like East Side San Jose and Salinas, they are left with more trauma than they can process. Students deserve to understand their feelings and they deserve support. When I was younger I was not able to empower my brother to digest his trauma in a healthy manner due to my own internal struggle with similar trauma. The trauma affected his success in education.
As a City Year, I can empower my student David. He has made more progress towards grade level than in previous school years. His progression is slow at times, and he will relapse in his behaviors, but the progress is sure. With him, it's a long game. Like with my brother Rafael, I am endlessly patient. I have conversation after conversation with him. Despite our mutual frustration at times, I know that I can share my flame of inspiration and resilience with him without dimming my own. When it gets windy and his flame is dim, I remind him that success and failure are not optional, they are guaranteed. If he can believe in himself as much as I believe in him, he can blaze a path to new frontiers for himself and his family.