I love having the opportunity to connect with young people and their families. It’s very grounding and reminds me everyday why I went into this type of work. I wanted to help facilitate the healing in their lives. So my favorite part of this job? Listening to their stories and connecting with their hearts. I believe our people are resilient and they have amazing strengths and gifts. Sometimes, carving a little space for people to feel heard helps them reconnect with their strengths and gifts.
I think as a therapist on campus, I have been very fortunate to witness young people in action. I’ve helped facilitate conversations in group settings where young people have an opportunity to connect with each other and I also work with very amazing people in Seneca who whole-heartedly believe in this work as much as I do. I say this because this work cannot be done alone and if we shine is because we shine as a team. Last year, I, along with my esteemed colleague Ms. Tatiana Stewart (another clinician at the Lazear campus) were able to facilitate a conversation between young people in Middle School with their long term substitute teacher who replaced the revolving door of substitute teachers that were covering the class after the regular classroom teacher left mid-year. These conversations took place through Restorative Justice circles. We had the privilege of witnessing how that classroom was able to build a stronger connection with not only each other but their long term substitute teacher through those conversations. We also noticed how certain young people who had a challenging time staying present and focused, were able to shift to the point that they were able to express their appreciation toward the long term substitute teacher in front of peers.
Tap into your intuition and listen to the whispers around you. Those whispers may be your ancestors trying to provide some guidance or your gut trying to steer you on the right path.
Healing for the seventh generation. As a “mixed blood person” from indigenous roots, I believe that we do this work in order to heal the generations before us who did not have the opportunity to heal and heal future generations. I am motivated by the future and creating a better place for that seventh generation one generation at a time.
It’s cliché but I do love spending time with my family and reconnecting with myself whether it’s through writing, singing or experimenting with a new recipe.
I love the people and the rich cultural diversity that exists within Oakland. To me, Oakland has a lot of heart and in the face of gentrification, our people here continue to move forward. I think working at a charter school that has been kept open by families has proven to me once again, the power of heart and commitment. At Lazear Charter Academy, the families were the ones who kept this school alive. If we have a wonderful place to work in, it is because of all those families who stood up and fought for the school to remain here in this community.
I want a public education to have the opportunities for young people to feel inspired and dream big. I often hear from students that “school is boring” and I wonder if there were more resources and opportunities, would we be able to offer them an experience within public education for them to learn through experiential ways. Let’s give them a space where they can access not only excellent academic classes but access art, music, nature and theatre. I would also would like to see restorative justice circles at every school because it focuses on community building and having a place for young people to feel heard and connect with their teachers on a deeper level.