One student at a time.

At my inner city, high-poverty, low income, non-diverse population middle school college seems a long way away.   For the most part we have been focusing on kids finishing high school – many will be the first in their families to do so.

We have a new Principal, Jeff King, a founder of Turn Around Schools and a guy who comes to us with quite a track record.  I’ll say more about him in another post.  Anyway, Jeff doesn’t talk about finishing high school he talks about being ready for college.

BUT I know that this idea is not new to some staff members.  Last night I hosted a dinner in my backyard to celebrate the beginning of college for a former student from our school.  Three teachers (and myself in a more minor role) have mentored this boy since 7th grade!

Santos lives in the largest growing poverty area in San Diego County, he attended the elementary schools & middle school with the lowest test scores, his father was arrested and deported for spousal abuse, he sleeps in the living room because a boarder rents his room, his mother speaks very little English.

Santos was an AVID student for 5 years and I think that made a tremendous difference in his life!  Throughout his high school years the former middle school teachers edited papers for him, pushed him to read, checked report cards, talked to his teachers, took him to see local colleges, helped with college applications, grant/scholarship applications and spoke to a Dean at UCSC when it looked like his application would be denied.  All the things I would have done for my kids but he didn’t have that kind of mother in his life.  I taught him to drive.  One teacher set up a bank account for him (in her name, because, after all, he is only 18) and asked former teachers, principals, superintendents for donations, she took him shopping and got all his supplies and even has some spending money left in in his account.  He has an on-campus job and knows he can’t afford to come home for Christmas or Thanksgiving – he has some family near school and will stay.

I hope he’ll be successful, we all know the stats.  But these teachers have given him an opportunity that doesn’t come just because one attends and graduates from high school.

I can’t express how proud I am of Santos and of Kirsten Josephson, Maria Velasquez & Mary Adams.  I know that teachers all over the country do this kind of thing every day, these just happen to be the ones I know.



1 Response to “One student at a time.”

  1. 1 Mjblaze September 6, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    You ladies really do rock! You have all been the change you want to see in the world.

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