Team Work Equals Dream Work

Just like the teams we represented on our Spirit Day, who know how to work together to obtain their goals, Heidi and I are an amazing team. Our goal is to embraces Aspires work around equity, and service our children and their families as the unique individuals they are. We just finished a hectic month of assessments, report cards, and student led conferences. But through all these lenses we continued to see more hidden treasures about each of our students and their families. These treasures will allow us to meet their individual needs. Having two teachers in the classroom is gives us more opportunity to meet each of our student’s needs. We are able to address confusions, modify a lesson immediately, and be a cheerleader during whole class instruction. We are able to pull more small groups for guided reading, guided math, guided writing, or any other time differentiated groups are needed. Individual needs can be met because we have more time to listen and observe with two of us being focused and driven to make sure that everyone gets what they need to be and feel successful. Rigor is the key to our student’s development and educational success. Guiding them at their own pace with two teachers in the classroom is a much easier task. We have been able to encourage growth mindset with our students based on the time we are able to spend one on one with them. It is this great teamwork that will lead and guide our student’s growth and ready them not only for second grade, but for a life time of possibilities.Diana and Heidi

Written By: Diana Puccio
K/1 Teacher
Aspire Vincent Shalvey Academy


Living our Mission: Aspire Alumni Commits to Giving Back to Community

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If you were to ask me eight years ago where I would be now, I would have never guessed that I would be where I am today. I was born and raised in Richmond, CA and lived there for ten years until I moved to Reno for five years.

My first two years of high school, I attended a highly-regarded Catholic high school in Reno. But during those first two years, not once did I feel like the teachers truly supported me, nor did they ever really instill in me the idea of pursuing a higher educational path after high school.

Once I moved back to Richmond my junior year, I had no knowledge of what my GPA was, what colleges/universities were out there, or the requirements I needed to apply for college. But then I enrolled at Aspire Cal Prep.

The moment I first stepped into Cal Prep, I immediately felt and saw a difference compared to my old high school. The idea of college was on every wall. In every class, for every subject, the teachers were so supportive.

For as long as I can recall, math had always been one of my worst subjects. I never got anything higher than a C in that subject. My math teacher at that time, Mrs. Salazar, changed that my first year at Cal Prep. I can recall feeling motivated by Mrs. Salazar to always try my best and she answered every question that I had. I truly felt that she cared about me and my education and that was enough to motivate me to attain my first A ever in a math class.

During my senior year, Cal Prep really helped me throughout the college application process.

Before I started my junior year – I did not think of college as an option for me. Once I moved to Cal Prep, I started to believe that I could actually attend a four-year university. I started to believe that I was actually going to be the first in my family to attend college.

Due to all the support and aid I got from Cal Prep throughout the process, I was accepted to five universities. I enrolled at UC Santa Cruz, and graduated this past May with a BA in a combined major of Sociology and Latin American Latino Studies.

While at Santa Cruz, I became involved in an organization called Plaza Comunitaria in which I helped individuals prepare for their naturalization exam. Through my volunteer work, I became interested in pursuing a career in education.

I decided that there was no better place to look for programs than Cal Prep.

I went back one day before the end of my senior year in college and they informed me of a program Aspire runs that gives individuals an opportunity to obtain their Masters in Education, as well as their teaching credentials. Individuals are placed in a classroom with an experienced teacher for a year – it’s called the Aspire Teacher Residency program.

I was lucky enough to be accepted into the program and I’ve been placed at my former high school for this school year with one of my favorite former teachers.

I can’t say enough about how great it is to be back at the place that helped me get where I am today.

I am so grateful to be giving back, not only to the Cal Prep community, but also the Richmond community. I want to inspire todays’ student to go on to achieve their goals, and to return and give back to their community.

Written By: Stephanie Alejandre
10th-12th Grade History
Aspire California Preparatory Academy

Embracing Love Languages

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The ATR residency program is hard work. Neither the resident nor mentor would argue that. At the beginning of every year there are countless demands where we find ourselves working diligently to make sure we are building strong relationships with the community, planning endless amounts of lessons, and figuring out the various needs of each individual student in our class. So where do we find the time to make sure we are building a trusting relationship with each other?

Over the past three years, the ATR director has built time into our orientations for each mentor/seminar pair to explore their love languages in the work place. The five love languages are: quality time, acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, and touch. These are introduced to us in the hopes that we can use them to effectively communicate encouragement and appreciation for another.

The last two years as a mentor teacher, I was aware of my residents’ love language; However, I often forgot what those languages were come October. This year, I’ve made a conscious effort to honor my residents’s love language and make sure she feels appreciated on a regular basis. Knowing she prefers words of affirmation, I make an effort to write a card, a positive email, or express a verbal compliment at least twice a week.

As soon as my resident was aware that an act of service was what I appreciated most from my co-workers, she has gone out of her to help me out in any way she can. She even made sure this was recognized in our scared meeting norms: “Be willing to help even when it does not serve you”. Our trust in each other has flourished knowing how much we appreciate one another. By starting the school year strong with our mentor/resident relationship, we can now dive into instruction and management to better serve our students.

Written By: Laura Strait
4th Grade Teacher
Aspire ERES Academy

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