We are proud to feature this guest post by Jessica Avalos-Alvarez, a teacher at Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Wheatley (YMLA) in San Antonio ISD, about her experience teaching English and writing at an all-boys SAISD Choice School.
My name is Jessica Avalos-Alvarez and I currently teach Research and Technical Writing (seniors) and English II (freshmen) at Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Wheatley (YMLA), an all-boys school in San Antonio ISD. I’m also the National Honor Society advisor, Senior Class Co-Sponsor, Head Cross Country Coach for High School, and Head Cross Country Coach for Middle School.
At YMLA, our mission is to equip young men with the knowledge and skills necessary to graduate from college while developing the confidence and efficacy to pursue their dreams.
YMLA is built upon research that indicates that boys and girls learn differently. We recognize that boys have certain academic, social, and emotional needs. We address those needs through instruction that is tailored to the male learner and that is delivered in an environment that promotes a strong culture of brotherhood and camaraderie. Student also participate in a daily, ten-minute meditation sessions. At YMLA, students have the possibility of attending school together from the sixth grade until high school; over 70 percent of our senior class has been together since the sixth grade.
Our school supports flexibility and innovation. In each classroom, male learners are afforded the opportunity for flexible seating. Students can sit in nodes, couches, traditional classroom tables with chairs, or stand.
“Guy Talk” at Young Men’s Leadership Academy
Every YMLA student experiences a highly interactive and rigorous learning environment, designed to prepare him for coursework that will lead to graduation at the Distinguished Level of Achievement. Students receive a balance of academic rigor and curricular- and co-curricular-enhancing opportunities. Starting in eighth grade, students take three high-school-level courses for high school credit: Latin I, Algebra I, and English I.
YMLA has a unique culture. Every Monday, the entire school attends “guy talk,” in which students hear stories of resilience and success, specifically tying to challenges the average male teenager faces. YMLA also offers mentoring and mentee options through our “house” system: Seniors lead a group of young men through emotional discussions and hands-on activities, creating a brotherhood in which students know they can have someone to go to in times of conflict or celebration.
Teaching at YMLA
The administration at YMLA encourages teachers to pursue professional development. As a faculty, we are offered the opportunity to submit proposals to attend national professional development conferences. Personally, I’ve been encouraged by my principal to pursue my goal of becoming a school counselor; I’m currently attending a university to earn my master’s degree in school counseling.
YMLA offers faculty the ability to start new student organizations on campus. Since we are a newer high school, I’ve been allowed to explore new fundraising efforts, field trips, and learning opportunities that are typically already established at more traditional high schools. For example, as a high school, our first National Honor Society chapter was started last year.
I learned about YMLA when I was working at a different SAISD campus, Page Middle School—now known as Young Women’s Leadership Academy—Primary at Page. As a mother of two young boys, I was interested in learning more about how to help young men succeed emotionally and academically.
Young Men’s Leadership Academy in SAISD Offers Choice
Each charter school provides a unique asset and offerings to their community. For teachers applying to work at a charter school, I would suggest visiting a few to see which one is the right one for you and your family before deciding to work at a campus.
My son also attends YMLA. He started as a fourth grader and is currently a sixth grader. For parents, similar to potential charter school teachers, I’d suggest having potential students shadow at various charter schools to assist in finding the best fit.
The benefits of school choice for students, families, and educators is that it brings together communities that would not traditionally interact with each other. At YMLA, as an SAISD Choice School, I get to work with and teach learners from all across Bexar county, not just from a single neighborhood.
Connect with YMLA
YMLA has a campus website and a profile on saisdchoice.com where you can learn more about our program for boys in grades 6–12 and apply for enrollment. You can follow YMLA on social media on Facebook and Instagram. Our main phone number is 210-354-9652. The campus is located at 415 Gabriel, San Antonio, TX 78202 (map).
Charter Moms Chats
Watch Jessica Avalos-Alvarez, Teacher at Young Men’s Leadership Academy in San Antonio ISD, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on January 22, 2024 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.
Jessica Avalos-Alvarez works at Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Wheatley in San Antonio ISD teaching Research and Technical Writing and English II. She also advises the National Honor Society, serves as Senior Class Co-Sponsor, and coaches middle school and high school cross country. Her son is a 6th grade student at YMLA.
Read More about YMLA and SAISD Choice Schools
- “Guide to International Baccalaureate in SAISD Choice Schools,” Matt Weber, San Antonio Charter Moms, January 18, 2024
- “SAISD Enrollment Guide for Choice Schools in 2024–25,” San Antonio Charter Moms, December 13, 2023
- “YMLA football set to finally get off the ground,” David Hinojosa, San Antonio Express-News, October 22, 2022
- “A San Antonio all-boys charter school’s football team makes history at Alamo Stadium,” David Hinojosa, San Antonio Express-News, September 3, 2021
- “Charter Moms Chats — YMLA And Sam Houston P-TECH In SAISD, With Derrick Brown And Kaye Robinson,” YouTube, April 12, 2021
- “YMLA selects first-ever football coach,” David Hinojosa, Mysanantonio.com, May 29, 2020
- “Cleto is at YMLA,” Cleto Rodriguez, FOX San Antonio, January 17, 2020
- “‘Guy talk’ part of the curriculum at all-boys school,” Alia Malik, Mysanantonio.com, December 12, 2017
- “Young Men’s Leadership Academy expands to high school,” Alia Malik, San Antonio Express-News, December 12, 2017
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- “Tamarya Guess Is “Coach T” to Her Students at Compass Rose Dream,” Tamarya Guess, San Antonio Charter Moms, January 17, 2024
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- “Jerrel Williams Is a Teacher, Coach, Chef, and Leader at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School,” Jerrel Williams, San Antonio Charter Moms, March 8, 2023
- “Jennifer Semanko Shares Her Pre-K Teacher Tales from Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School,” Jennifer Semanko, San Antonio Charter Moms, March 23, 2022
- “Bonnie Salas Is a Parent and Leader at Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering,” Bonnie Salas, San Antonio Charter Moms, January 26, 2022
- “Mr. B Brings His Marine Mindset to Technology Education at SST Alamo,” Brandon Ballard, San Antonio Charter Moms, December 15, 2021
- “Teacher Tales: Jefferson High School International Baccalaureate World School in San Antonio ISD,” Ralf Halderman and Chris Stanley, San Antonio Charter Moms, November 18, 2020