Summer 2016

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Page 18 of 43 | 19 summer 2016 tutoring. Another trait Stewart looks for when she's hiring staf is multiple credentials. "The more credentials you have, the more fexibility I have in moving kids and balancing the classes," she says. The teachers at Success are capable of easily adapting from one content area—and one student—to another. "These educators are special," says Stewart. "They don't stick to traditional structure because that structure didn't work for the kids." A CARING CAMPUS FAMILY There is another attribute that Stewart looks for in educators that is just as valuable to her as credentials, fexibility, and content mastery—applicants must prioritize relationships. "We look for people who know how to establish relationships, because we have to remember that the students are coming here for many diferent reasons," she says. The educators at Success have to be comfortable having difcult conversations with students. Career and technical education teacher Catherine Chang says having educators who care makes a big diference in students' lives. "If we know there are problems, we talk to them," says Chang. "Even though they may have family problems, when the students come here, at least they have someone to talk to in a safe place." Students are assigned advisors who mentor and advocate on their behalf. "You have to be able to work with very determined young people, who may have had failures along the way, who didn't do the work, or who question the work," says Stewart. "You have to get them back on track." Conversations in the teachers' lounge and in the halls cover the usual school subjects but can also revolve around teenage brain development, socioemotional issues, and economics. "We are looking at their clothes, watching their eating habits, and talking about whether they are being properly cared for," says Stewart. School staf often donates necessities like food. They have also helped provide things like interview clothing, food handler cards, and job leads. More than one student has found a job with the help of the staf. AN INNOVATIVE NEW CAMPUS Before the new campus was built, the Success program was housed in portables behind Round Rock's Stony Point High School. During the years behind the 6A school, science labs were nonexistent, art students hauled jugs of water from the high school because the portables had no water system, and students and staf dealt with occasional blackouts thanks to easily tripped fuses. Stewart recalls the prolonged push Menberu's Story Menberu Zewdie had a dilemma. He was born in Africa and his parents moved to Austin when he was a year old. After Menberu fnished eighth grade, his father decided to return home to Ethiopia and launch a startup, and he wanted his son to help him. Menberu went, and attended a private school before enrolling at the British International School. When Menberu eventually returned to Austin, he discovered that despite the Westwood High School registrar's best eforts, his two years in his African high school would not transfer. Menberu had a choice—stay at Westwood and graduate at age 20, or accelerate the pace of his coursework by attending Success. He chose to complete his high school credits in two years versus four. At Success, Menberu appreciates more than just the accelerated pace of learning. He says the teachers dedicate themselves to the students. "They really, truly, deeply care," he says. "Not to say that other teachers at other schools don't, but there are so many students there that they can't focus on individual students' needs. Here, they are more attentive because they can be." Menberu plans to pay that dedication forward. Even though he has already been accepted at universities, he plans to enlist in the Navy. He says that being in the service requires a selfess attitude, not unlike that of the teachers at Success, and following their lead means more to him than anything else. GROUP PHOTO BY JOHN A. STEWART; MENBERU ZEWDIE PHOTO BY JEAN SCHLITZKUS continued on page 40

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