by Mia Mitchell, City Year Los Angeles AmeriCorps member at Stevenson Middle School
Recognized during the month of March, Women's History Month gives us an opportunity to pause and recognize women who impact our community and work unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. Stevenson Middle School, one of the schools we serve in Boyle Heights, is filled with women who are providing consistent motivation and are a positive influence to all who walk into their classrooms or offices. Throughout Women's History Month, I chose to highlight some of our school staff whose names are well-known throughout the student body and school staff for their dedication. When I asked them why they love what they do, their responses were as powerful as their hearts. Though they have each taken a different road to get to Stevenson Middle School, their commitment to building a stronger community unites them as one.
Meet some of the (s)heroes of Stevenson Middle School:
Yesenia Hernandez is an 8th-grade English Teacher at Stevenson Middle School. Mrs. Hernandez received her bachelor's degree in English from Mount St. Mary’s College and later earned her Master’s in TESOL at Cal State Los Angeles. She attributes her path to middle school teaching to her own 8th grade English teacher. She loves the school so much that she is thrilled to have her three children attend one day!
Elisa Ray teaches 7th-grade Science, 8th-grade Avid, and is the lead for Stevenson's Students Run LA chapter. She received her bachelor's degree in Biology from Loyola Marymount University and later earned her master's in Education at Cal State Los Angeles. She loves the work ethics and family dynamics that parents instill in the students here in Boyle Heights. Mrs. Ray's parents played a huge part in her decision of going into teaching as they were both teachers. She believes in the power of education to build a strong community.
Claudia Santizo is Stevenson Middle School’s cafeteria manager. Before moving to Los Angeles, she attended technical school in Guatemala. During her free time, she likes to read, solve puzzles, hike and cook. Her best dish is chile rellenos! Miss Claudia started working at Stevenson in 2003 and has felt like a member of the family ever since. Her favorite thing about the community: “It feels so nice to see everyone willing to help each other.”
Nguyen Cao is a 7th- and 8th-grade math partner teacher at Stevenson Middle School for her eighth consecutive year as a teacher! She completed both her master's and credentials at University of California, Irvine. Ms. Cao was inspired to teach by one of her elementary school teachers who always showed care and encouraged students to love learning. She says that if she can influence at least one student in this way, then she is fulfilled as a teacher.
Jocelyn Lotho is an alum of Cal State Long Beach and our resident school nurse. She enjoys learning about the community through the students she cares for. She appreciates the opportunity to work in an environment where kids are underserved and finds purpose in providing them with the attention and care they need.
Maribel Camacho is one of our 7th-grade math partner teachers. She received her bachelor's in Math and Economics from UC San Diego, master's in Education and single subject math credential from UCLA. “My high School Calculus teacher, Mr. Quezada inspired me to love math and to want to go into education. I worked with a lot of high school programs tutoring and mentoring students throughout college and I saw the impact a person could have and I wanted to be part of that. I want to show students that math is not a subject they should fear and that math could be fun!"
Brianna Mosley is our People Service and Attendance Counselor. As a proud "Double Bruin," she received her bachelor's in Psychology and master's in Social Work from UCLA. Attending schools in Compton as a child, she knew the importance of giving back to an underserved community. She commits to a two-hour commute daily and it doesn’t stop her from being a positive influence on the students. Her motivation stems from her late grandfather. Mrs. Mosley and her sister live through the legacy of him in education and medicine. Both found ways to serve those who may not have access to a support system.