This year has been a rollercoaster year with lots of surprises and many twists and turns. I have been moved to a new school, a launch campus for Citizen Schools, at Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto. Our students here know a completely different culture than the seasoned veterans of Campbell Middle School where I worked last year. That is what makes this year so special. This is their first year with Citizen Schools, their first year with Apprenticeships, their first year with consistent academic support coming from someone besides their traditional schoolday teachers. And I love it. Oh, it's challenging for sure, but my students remind me everyday that the work I do is worth it as we watch their grades improve for the first time in their lives, and as I see their investment with Citizen Schools grow to an authentic and tangible force that encourages them to show up every single day.
In my second year with Citizen Schools, you've heard my story before. But when I wrote my experience last year, I had no idea of what lay ahead. Since you visited my page last year, so many things have changed - leaving Campbell to launch this new campus, working in Boston last summer on the Teaching Fellow support team, watching my 8GA alumni from last year win the "Alumni of the Year Leadership Award", winning the "Your Work Inspires Me" award from my peers at Citizen Schools - and yet, so little is different: my students are still challenged by the systemic neglect that arises from our education system and left to fend for themselves. At our school, there are too many students to one teacher, not enough computers, not enough books, not enough support with disciplinary challenges. But with Citizen Schools, our students are receiving hands-on support with an interdisciplinary lens; they meet professionals from Silicon Valley who teach Apprenticeships like Mock Trial with lawyers from HP, Video Game Design with engineers from Cisco, Marketing and Design with Facebook; they are creating their own autobiographies and pushing themselves to succeed in school; every single one of my eighth graders has applied to a high school with a 100% graduation rate and a 95% college acceptance rate. These children can and will succeed, and maybe it will have started because Citizen Schools came to Cesar Chavez Academy and made a difference.
Like I said, this year has not been easy. But I know that it is completely and totally worth my time and energy. You might not have the ability to work in a classroom every day, but you do have the opportunity to support this amazing non-profit that I will never give up on. Citizen Schools changes the trajectory of student and family lives. My students will go to college, they will know about the A-G requirements they need to take in high school, they will feel confident speaking in front of a group of adults, they will feel supported, and they will always know that we aren't giving up on them. Please help us with this mission.