StoryCorps San Francisco kicked off National Teachers Initiative interviews this fall with a unique and innovative Bay Area high school, Downtown College Preparatory. DCP is a public charter school in San Jose, California whose educators work closely with students and their families to promote academic excellence and to develop the self-confidence and community support they’ll need to succeed in college and beyond. The school prepares students – most of whom are first-generation Americans and will be first-generation college students – to thrive at four-year universities. They do this through a singular goal set for each student: DCP students must gain admittance to a four-year academic institution before graduating from high school.
We first connected to DCP through Edwin Avarca, a history teacher at the school and a first-generation college graduate himself. He mentioned that his colleague, Elizabeth Neely, was a StoryCorps fan and freshman English teacher, who incorporates StoryCorps’ edited segments in her curriculum. She has found that this helps her students to work on their English skills and self-expression through storytelling. We knew right away that Ms. Neely would be perfect to coordinate an on-site recording day with DCP community.
When we visited DCP in October, the dedication of DCP’s staff, students, and families was obvious. Family members and staff took time out of their work day to record with the students; even Principal Michael DeSousa recorded an interview with a student to talk about what inspired him to become an educator.
DCP has been one of our star community partners. This year we’ve recorded over a dozen interviews with DCP educators, students, and family members. The teachers and parents have shared stories of their own accomplishments, educational struggles, and their hopes for the students’ futures. They’ve candidly reflected on the DCP community and the ways they exercise their school’s core values: ganas (desire), comunidad (community) and orgullo (pride).
Many thanks to Ms. Neely and the whole crew of DCP staff, students, and families who’ve shared their stories so far. StoryCorps San Francisco looks forward to many more!