Today is one of those days that even though my body may be in California my heart and mind are in Houston, Texas. Today 500 students announced in front of their families, peers and teachers where they
are headed to college in the fall. Most of these students are 1st generation college bound, come from low-income families, are the 1st in their families to graduate from high school and are all examples to the people in their neighborhoods of how to beat the odds.
The class of 2014 are the first kids I ever worked with at YES. They are the students I taught summer school to when I was just an intern and they were just incoming 9th graders. They are the students who taught me that I wanted to work with inner city youth and the students who I laughed and cried and learned and wobbled with. They are my babies and even though I went to work at YES to serve them and teach them and “change lives;” THEY CHANGED MINE.
I was so spoiled to be able to work with these amazing learners and coworkers. When you work in an environment in which excellence isn’t only the expectation, it is the norm, it is easy to forget to celebrate the small wins or even understand how significant the big wins are. Currently, I work in a place in which the children who pass through this court-ordered program have told me over and over that no one believes in them and they are “supposed to be in jail” because that is where their families are. These kids are the statistics.
People, even people who work at YES, forget what the population we work with go through day in and day out. A loving mom and dad, doesn’t always mean there are resources for the right medical help. Finishing pre-cal homework doesn’t come before making sure all 4 younger siblings are fed because mom is at work. Getting into Pepperdine after they have worked their butt off in school, doesn’t mean there are funds for they will actually be able to go.
Because I now truly understand what it is like to serve a population of children who are defeated by the odds, my babies at YES Prep mean that much more to me. They have and will continue to prove the statistics wrong. They have overcome a lot and today is a day to celebrate a big win for them!
Class of 2014: You inspire me daily to do more, work harder, spread love and serve wholeheartedly. CONGRATS-you are amazing! Please continue to keep swinging at the curve balls life throws at you. I promise you aren’t done with them yet, but when you hit a home run like you did today, you will remember why you came up to the plate in the 1st place!
YES Prep Staff: Keep up all the hard work. The days you go home and realize their wasn’t time for food today other than that sonic run or you have made more parent phone calls than you can log on the chart that makes you feel insufficient in your GL meeting-REMEMBER the feeling you had today! YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. And I promise you this, if you ever leave it, you will remember your job there like I do, as the hardest thing you ever loved!
All of y’all: Remember what Michelle Rhee said today…
- Always focus on what’s the most important.
- Fight for what you believe in.
- Prove the naysayers wrong.
Happy Senior Signing Day!