I work at with an amazing educational organization. Health Sciences High Middle College began 10 years ago with the mission to help every person on that campus identify their goals and aspirations, and support them to develop action plans to reach those goals. Every student. Every adult. Every day. We serve students from all over the city, from across the border, with most of our local urban neighborhoods.
My journey to Health Sciences began when our son went there when it opened 10 years ago. He had the lofty goal of attending medical school, and he was given the opportunity every day to work toward that goal. But it wasn’t the location or the college studies, or the coursework, or even the internships at the hospital that truly made the difference for him. It was the adults in his life. Adults like Jeff Bonine who debated climate change for all four years he attended the school, long after he left that freshman science class. It was Heather Anderson who recognized that he was a great student, but he had other struggles, and she gave him a safe place to land when he needed it. It was Dr. P who high fived him every single day and challenged him to become a better person, to question, to debate and to inspire. It was Dr. Fisher and Dr. Frey who coached him how to work as a team member, to lead by empowering others. t was the countless other teachers and staff that saw him, that knew him, and cared about him. It was the friendships he developed that crossed ethnic, racial, political and economic boundaries that gave him the strength and determination to fly. And when he went on to Berkeley and became an ER tech, and then got into medical school at the University of Iowa, his extended HSHMC family continued to celebrate and support him. But the story isn’t about my son, the story is about every student, with whatever their aspiration, and the fact there was someone on that campus that mentored that student, took a real interest, and never gave up. It was something that I loved as a parent and aspired to be as an educator.
Flash forward to my own experience. HSHMC has grown from a high school campus and middle college to embracing a middle school campus downstairs that is going on its fifth year. I joined the staff last year, proud to be part of this growing campus.
We have the same mission, the same commitment, and I am blessed to be on the staff of an organization the embodies the message that we do whatever it takes, for how ever long it may take to support our students and staff, and we do it like a family. Our students too come from diverse backgrounds, with many challenges. We are growing together, providing a safe and supportive environment for students and adults to become not just scholars, but responsible people. When I saw this video, I knew that it embodied the work we do every day. Our students can be challenging, facing societal and family pressures that can put learning on the back burner. They need caring, passionate, and reflective adults in their lives who are willing to be there day after day, never giving up. That can be exhausting, and I will admit there are days when I think I am not the one who can do this. And then I look around, and I see in the eyes of my colleagues the strength to continue. I feel the support and the comradery as we set new goals, try new things, meet, take action, and try again.
When I saw this video on my feed this morning, I knew it was a sign. I watched it from start to finish, and I hope you take the time to do so as well. I disagree with one thing this young man says, and that is it takes one caring adult. It takes more than one. It takes a group of committed adults to make a change. We all need caring adults. Our campus faces challenges and supports kids with so many diverse needs in a restorative manner, and that cannot be done alone. I don’t want one kid to leave our campus feeling they didn’t have someone in their corner, and to be strong enough for them, we need to be strong enough to admit when we need help, be flexible in how we approach things and be willing to step out of a comfort zone to make the best decision for kids.
So my message today is this. Be that mentor, Be that person who inspires one person. But also seek out your own mentors, we need to support each other. Times like today seem overwhelming, but we each have the power to make a difference, but to do it for the long haul we need to do it together.