5 for 5: Spotlight on 5 YES Prep teachers and staff members who committed 5+ years to YES

In our Five for Five series, we spotlight YES Prep staff members who have committed five or more years to YES Prep. For more, read about YES Prep’s Commit to Five program.

Lynda Daniel has worked at YES Prep for 16 years. She currently serves as the Student Opportunities Manager in the Home Office.

Daniel

Favorite memory: I have a lot of wonderful memories and most involve changing a “NO” to “Yes.”  As in parents saying, “No, their student cannot attend a wonderful program.”  Parents do not realize this, but at the beginning of our conversation, I glance down at my watch and time our conversation. I’m timing to see how long it takes to get from NO to YES.

Why YES Prep: Chris Barbic spoke at my breakfast club in August, 1999 and I was enthralled with what he said YES was trying to accomplish. I tracked Chris Barbic and YES for two years. Finally he and Donald Kamentz gave up and hired me. I stay because I love connecting students to transformative experiences.

Keith W. Derosiers has taught at YES Prep for 19 years. He currently teaches AB/BC Calculus and AQR at the Southwest and Northside campuses. He is also a High School Math Content Specialist.

Derosiers

Favorite memory: Years ago, when I was the 10th Grade Level Chair at Southeast, we were on the California Spring Trip, traveling on the Pacific Coast Highway late at night. We had the ocean on one side of the bus and the hills on the other side. Rather than watching a movie, one of the students took out his guitar and started playing a song. All of the students and chaperones on the bus were singing along, enjoying the view, and bonding as a family. When the song was over, we kept the lights down low and just beheld the beauty that  is the Pacific Coast. I often find myself thinking back to this as one of the most peaceful experiences I have ever shared with students. It was completely spontaneous, which made it that much more special.

Why YES Prep: I started at YES Prep because Chris Barbic had the most compelling vision of what was possible for students in Houston. He convinced me to leave my teaching position as a TFA Corps Member at Milby High School and take a chance on YES College Prep. The transition was terrifying, filled with uncertainty, and the most exhausting experience ever. Initially, I stayed because of my relationship with Chris, and other founding members of the team: Jen Pagani Hines, Nelly Martinez Rodriguez, Jason Bernal, Bill Durbin, Luz Navarro, Donald Kamentz, Leigh Anne Rayburn, Angie Longoria, Lynda Daniel, the list goes on and on. Over the years, many of the founders have transitioned away from YES Prep, and that’s okay– change is natural. I  choose to stay at YES Prep– in part because of the relationships with students past, present, and future– but a bigger reason for me to stay is that I believe in our mission and our ability to work together to ensure that academic excellence is a reality for all students in Houston.

Erica DiBella has worked at YES Prep for 16 years. She currently serves as a librarian at YES Prep Southeast.

DiBella

Favorite memory: I’ll never forgot my first spring trip with 8th graders to Washington D.C.  We stayed at the dorms at GW and, on the last night, we had a pillow fight in the halls. Security came up and wasn’t too happy because they thought all the adults were asleep!  When they realized that the adults were participating, we got some really weird, disapproving looks (which we deserved!).  After security left, we all had milk and cookies with the students. So fun!

Why YES Prep: I enjoyed the challenge of teaching in my TFA placement school but I was discouraged that my 8th graders went off to a high school that did not prepare them for college.  I pursued a job at YES because I wanted to be a part of a school that had a common vision and goal of getting students in and through college.

Rose Rodriguez has worked at YES Prep for 10 years. She currently teaches 7th grade social studies at YES Prep Gulfton.

Rose Rodriguez

Favorite memory: Last year, my students threw me a surprise birthday party and it was very adorable. They decorated a classroom and brought pizza and snacks and cake and presents. I have never felt so loved by my students and it showed me just how important it is to build relationships with students.

Why YES Prep: Someone told me about an opening. It was entry level so that I could easily balance with college. I’ve been working with kids since I was 16 so I was excited to keep that up. I stayed because I fell in love with the YES Prep atmosphere and ambition. As a KIPP graduate, I felt like I could relate so much to the students. I was motivated by them to stay and watch them grow and succeed.

Laureen Wimbley has taught at YES Prep for 10 years. She currently teaches 8th grade health and seminar and is a grade level chair at YES Prep Southwest.

Wimbley

Favorite memory: My favorite memories all revolve around Camp YES – a summer enrichment program I helped start at Southwest for students in grades 3-5. Camp YES is staffed by current high school students and it’s just awesome working with them each summer to create a fun learning experience for future Mavericks.

Why YES Prep: I started at YES Prep as a Teach For America Corps member. I stayed at YES Prep because of the community we serve and the leadership. I love that we provide amazing opportunities for minority kids and their families. I also consider it a privilege to be led by people whose personal and professional values match mine.

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