Dariela Galindo is currently a sophomore at Travis Early College High School in SAISD. We are proud to share the story of her school choice journey in this guest post.
Tell us about your school choice journey to find the right high school.
My name is Dariela Galindo. I am currently a sophomore at Travis Early College High School. I transferred to Travis this school year from Great Hearts Monte Vista. I was a founding scholar at Great Hearts Monte Vista since I was in fourth grade in 2014. At Great Hearts, the curriculum was more classical, and so we read and discussed many of the great books. There was always encouragement to speak our own viewpoints on what we were covering. Although I made some great relationships at Great Hearts and while they gave me a great academic foundation, such as critical thinking and the ability to have student-led discussions, I longed for an environment where someone who looked like me—Latinx—in a position of leadership. As a student I felt it was important to have mentors and role models who could relate and identify to my culture, but it was sorely missing from the faculty to the school board.
After various discussions with my parents, we decided to search for alternative schools. My parents always told me if I was not happy where I was, there was a range of other possible alternatives I could do.
And so we attended the Experience SAISD event, an informational meeting for CAST Med, and an open house for Travis Early College High School. I applied to CAST Med and was given a spot, but I declined it because I was not ready to leave Great Hearts or my friends. My freshman year, I applied to Travis, a dual enrollment school through San Antonio College, and I was given a spot for my sophomore year. After much thought and consideration, I accepted the offer to attend Travis.
Following my acceptance, I met with my principal and she informed me on the incredible amount of support the students were given. After that one discussion, I was reaffirmed that they cared about the students’ success, the students’ goals, and that they made efforts to personally get to know the students. Due to the pandemic and school closures, I started my first year at Travis with distance learning. While I have not been able to physically return to campus, I have established great relationships with my teachers, college professors, and classmates. In September, my family visited the Grand Canyon and I was able to virtually participate in my classes.
What advice do you have for students in middle school who are thinking about choosing which high school to attend?
I would encourage anyone who is looking to transition from middle school to attend Experience SAISD and tour as many high schools as possible. As you start to explore your options for high school, it’s important that you consider the school culture, diversity among the students and faculty, class sizes, levels of courses offered (Advanced Placement and honor), electives and clubs offered, and if the school will fully prepare you for the future. That is what I found at Travis Early College High School.
Regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion—does representation matter when it comes to the student population, teachers, and school leadership?
At Travis and SAC, the diversity of the students and teachers provides for an inclusive approach to an education. I strongly believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical to the success of students. As I said before, it is empowering to have a mentor who can similarly identify to a student’s background. As well as those factors, representation in the school is also essential. Having teachers and mentors that reflect the demographics of their students provides a diverse population where everyone’s culture is displayed.
What have you learned from your community service activities?
I enjoy giving back to my community and helping with local needs. Since my freshman year, I have been involved with Teens Give Back, an organization that promotes opportunities to give back to our community. Also since my freshman year, I have been engaged in the National Hispanic Institute, an organization that guides high schoolers to become future leaders for the Latino community. And last year, due to COVID-19, NHI hosted its first virtual GDX, Great Debate. It was my first tournament for NHI and I advanced to the Elite 8 section of the oratory category. My main takeaway from being engaged in these leadership organizations is that you don’t have to wait until you’re an accomplished adult to start making changes to your community and using your voice—you can start now.
Do you have any thoughts about pandemic life?
COVID-19 struck fast and unexpectedly at the end of my freshman year. At first it was school that was put on pause, and then NHI was now virtual, and then folclorico was virtual, and then community service was paused, and the list goes on. Since COVID struck in March, we’ve had to postpone my quince five times. We’ve recently changed the date again to July, and we’re hoping this is the last change. As the country gets vaccinated, and as we prepare to return to normalcy, there is hope that better days are to come.
Charter Moms Chats
Read More SAISD and Student Stories
- “SAISD Enrollment Guide for Choice Schools in 2021–2022,” San Antonio Charter Moms, November 17, 2020
- “Student Stories: Mia Rodriguez, Senior at the School of Science and Technology San Antonio,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 9, 2020
- “Experience SAISD Helps Families Learn about San Antonio ISD Schools of Choice,” San Antonio Charter Moms, January 9, 2019