Inspirational Stories

Academic Club | Montgomery Middle School

Youth to College mural

Reflections from Classroom Mentors

Lessons Learned
I think that I probably learned more from the community then they've learned from me. I've learned to be culturally competent and to be conscious of the different learning styles. My students tell me so many stories about their families that I've actually learned more about their culture through personal narratives then reading a book. I've learned about the social struggles that my students and teacher experience, such as unequal distribution of resources, overcrowding of classrooms, and the effect of a lack of personal tutoring on a student. From the Linda Vista community, I've also been able to connect my work with larger societal issues that determine the strength of public education. This connection has motivated me to focus my work on underprivileged communities while still considering how my privileged USD life can effect the connection I develop with my students that are of an ethnic background. -- Julieta Barrios

K-12 StudentsKindergartener eating cupcake2nd grader painting

Working as a Linda Vista Elementary tutor has been the best fulfilling job I have ever had because I’ve had the opportunity to engage with the outside community and connect with kids who just want to be appreciated. Through my involvement with CASA's Youth Engagement Initiative, I have found my passion, which is to promote social justice through service and relationships. – Corina Lopez-Ramos, Federal Work-Study Student

Student leaders in the Youth Engagement Initiative came up with the following words (pictured below) that describe the gifts they have received from the community. The words include: insight, joy, perspective, connection with community, desire to change, patience, true happiness, creation, reflection; friendship, second chances, greater sense of compassion, respect and admiration, balance, knowledge, a sense of family, wisdom, energy, focus, and appreciation.

Photo of words that summarize the gifts received from the community

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Academic Club and California Campus Compact Community Engaged Fellow

The following is a video created by a Freshman, Ana, who worked with the Academic Club program (run by Bayside Community Center) at Linda Vista Elementary School.

video screen shot

Montgomery Middle School

A graduate student whose supervision has been grant-funded has expressed what a remarkable and significant experience this has been in her education and her preparation as a therapist. She has worked both at the Linda Vista Teen Center with all 70 youth, and in a focused way with 3, and at Montgomery Middle School with 10 youth. She has devoted 20 hours per week to this work and will continue to work with these youth during the summer. Her focused attention and talented interaction with youth has been commented on by the Teen Center staff. Since many of our joint service projects have been with this group of students, her work has had significant impact.

“Beginning in November I embarked on a challenging and rewarding journey. I became a school counselor trainee at Montgomery Middle School located in the heart of Linda Vista. This community, just a couple miles above from the beautiful University of San Diego, sees its share of gangs, causing violence and destruction throughout the neighborhoods. Although this area has its challenges, Linda Vista is also a close-knit multicultural community filled with rich history and traditions. Throughout this experience I have seen how powerful a mentor figure can be for these adolescents as they struggle with who they are and where they want to go in life. They face huge obstacles both in their family and social lives. Below I have provided a couple examples of two students that I have seen in therapy that have overcome many challenges already and how they are managing to reach their academic goals. I have changed their names to protect their privacy.

Over the last couple months I began an 8th grade girls group. A majority of these girls were mandated to attend the group due to their disruptive behaviors in school or due to their poor academics. One girl in the group, Clara, had poor grades and was caught smoking marijuana on school grounds. As I began getting to know her better she opened up to me about how her family was torn apart as her parents were taken off to jail due to child abuse. Clara was sent to San Diego to live with family friends. This family took her in but home life was still full of fighting, providing her with little support. In our group, Clara is working on developing higher self esteem through making new friends that give her the encouragement she needs to succeed. Together we have looked ahead at what she wants to do with her life and what she can see herself doing after high school. Clara still faces little family support, but through her new friends she is finding the strength to reach for her dreams.

Anisha is another young girl who recently has been accepted back into Montgomery after a probation period where she attended a juvenile delinquent school. I began seeing her after she reportedly had a fight on school grounds. After calming her down, she reported to me how difficult home is for her. She lives with her grandmother who is diabetic and slowly losing feeling in her feet. Her mother is a drug addict and they have a very conflictual relationship. Anisha’s younger sister is living with their mother, which causes Anisha constant worry about her sister’s well-being. I discussed with Anisha why school is difficult for her as I see her as a very bright and creative girl. She talked about how she has to take care of her grandmother, keep her sister safe from their mother’s abuse, and figure out how to help her family pay rent every month. She mentioned that she has no energy to try in school or that she even cares about doing her homework when her home life is so stressful. Anisha has incredible strength that I am drawing on to help her succeed in school so that she can reach her full potential in both her personal and professional life.”

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Montgomery students Montgomery studentsMontgomery students at USD

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