Like many of the students we serve I am a first generation American, with my mother emigrating from Italy when she was eight years old. My grandparents moved because they wanted their children to have the educational opportunities America provided. With my grandfather working full time and my grandmother knowing little English, my mother had to rely upon support from the teachers and staff to become educated. With this support she was able to become the first one in her family to graduate from college and inspire me to follow in her steps.
The unique structure of Citizen Schools provides us with the opportunity to closely connect with both our students and families. We also enable our students to connect their academics to the real world and close the achievement gap in urban public schools. One of my student’s mother has particular sought me out as a resource to help her better understand the American school system so that her daughter Sendy can succeed. Coming from a similar situation, I see many of my mother’s leadership abilities in Sendy. In the beginning of the year she was generally a quiet sixth grade student, but I knew that she was capable of much more. Through the Citizen Schools program, she has been able to take on numerous leadership roles and has become a model student of our program. For our half year celebration, she was able to confidently speak to a large group of sixth, seventh and eighth graders in leading them though the event. Her teachers have recently commented about the growth in the confidence she has displayed over the year. That confidence has allowed her to improve her grades in subjects where she used to struggle. I always look forward to talking with Sendy’s mother, who is extremely grateful for the opportunities we have provided.
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