Dreams for My Bayview Students
When I was growing up in San Jose, I dreamed of being a basketball star in the NBA. But when I failed to grow past 6’0” and neglected to practice my jump shot, I pivoted to another vision for my future.
Deeply inspired by the life and sense of purpose of a close college friend, who passed away shortly after graduation, I became a teacher. I started teaching in Atlanta, then at a KIPP high school in my hometown of San Jose, and this fall, I became the school leader at KIPP San Francisco College Prep, a public high school in the Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco. As a black educator, I considered returning to the South to be in a school where I could teach more students who look like me, but I have found my home here in the Bayview. While this historically significant neighborhood is under siege due to gentrification and the pressure of skyrocketing rents, the students I see every day at KIPP SF College Prep inspire me with their love, support, and dedication to learning.
The Bayview is home to three KIPP schools: KIPP Bayview Elementary (grades TK – 4), KIPP Bayview Academy (grades 5-8) and KIPP SF College Preparatory (grades 9-12). The San Francisco Unified School District Board will vote in November whether to renew the middle school, which has been making a difference in the community since 2003. I’d like the Board to approve the renewal so that KIPP middle schoolers can continue to matriculate to our high school for years to come.
Going from the classroom to being a principal this year has been a harder transition than I imagined, but it has given me the chance to help create a school where we can bring to life the dreams I hold for the amazing teenagers who come through our doors each morning.
My second hope is that our students have every opportunity to pursue the dreams they have for themselves. My own mom, who taught me about compassion and connection from an early age, passed away when I was just seven years old. I understand firsthand the impact trauma can have on learning, and I feel a deep connection to my students through our shared experiences. I see it as my privilege and responsibility to not let these experiences limit their future.
My first dream is that our students, who are over 90% African American and Latinx, will know that there is beauty, excellence, and world-changing potential in being black and brown. I hope they will feel the power in their heritage and see there is no need to hide who they are to fit in. And by helping them tap into their innate knowledge and leadership, we know they will make a difference in the world.
“We realize that college is not for everyone, but it should be a real option for all students, and I want to make mine know what opportunities are available to them.”
I’ve seen how KIPP schools empower Bayview students to reach their potential and be change agents. It’s critical that schools like ours reflect the needs of our community and meet our students where they are. We realize that college is not for everyone, but it should be a real option for all students, and I want to make mine know what opportunities are available to them.
Finally, my hope is that each student graduates from KIPP SF College Prep with a network of people around them that they can trust and confide in, now and for many years to come. It’s critical that our students understand they are not just individuals working alone, but they are also part of a community that will support them and to whom they have a responsibility to give back. For our KIPP SF College Prep students, that means they can continue to lean on me and their other teachers long after they leave us, and we know they will lift each other up along the way.