Mark DiBella has worked at YES Prep for 17 years. He currently serves as CEO.
Favorite memory: Almost my entire professional career has been at YES Prep, so it’s incredibly difficult to choose just one memory. However, a memory that is at the very top of a long list is Senior Signing Day 2010. This is the day that the North Central class of 2010—students that I had taught and worked with for 7 years—after listening to a powerful charge from former Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced where they were going to college. In my entire life, I have never been prouder. To this day, I still keep up with the vast majority of this class, and they continue to inspire me with their dedication to our mission. In fact, Lili, Elizabeth, Mirna, Brandon, Eddie, and Isamar have all come back to work at YES Prep!
Why YES Prep: I first found out about YES Prep when my wife, Erica (who has also been at YES Prep for 17 years), was invited to a dinner at the home of Chris Barbic, YES Prep’s founder. I went to the dinner as a “plus 1” and walked away with a job offer that changed the entire trajectory of my life. I’ve stayed at YES Prep for 17 years because I’m stubbornly committed to our mission and vision. I don’t think that we’re days or even years away from equitable access to a college prep education for ALL kids in Houston. If I had that unrealistic optimism, I would have left years ago. I stay, not because success is imminent, but because for me to not fight for our mission and vision one day at a time for the rest of my life would be to cosign on injustice. I don’t know if we’ll achieve our mission and vision in my lifetime, but I do know that I’ll die trying.
Nadya Espinoza has worked at YES Prep for 6 years. She currently teaches 6th grade Reading Lab at YES Prep Brays Oaks.
Favorite Memory: My favorite memory is my first Senior Signing Day. I remember being at the Toyota Center and feeling chills throughout the whole event. That day, I told myself I would teach at Brays Oaks until I saw my 6th graders graduate and announce their universities. They are now in 11th grade, and I seriously can’t wait until next year when I see them announce their colleges and walk across the stage for graduation.
Why YES Prep: When I was in 5th grade, my teacher was recruiting students to attend YES Prep, which had only been open for 2 years. They gave me a letter to give to my parents to see if they would be interested in me attending. I had heard so many negative things about YES Prep like the long hours, a lot of homework, and “mean teachers.” Because I was a kid, I got scared and threw the letter away before my parents saw it. That was one of my biggest regrets. When I graduated from college with an education major, I told myself to apply to YES Prep. I received an offer and started my YES Prep journey. I have stayed because I know this is definitely one of the hardest and most important jobs out there. There are only a few people that are dedicated enough to make a change when it comes to education, and I know I have it in me to make that change little by little.
Michael Healey has worked at YES Prep for 7 years. He currently teaches high school art at YES Prep East End.
Favorite Memory: A couple years ago, we had an East End Campus Student Show at TBH. The opening was big success: we showed over 75 pieces of student art, we had Mariachis and dancers show up and everyone had a great time. All of our student shows make up my favorite memories because that is the time for the kids to shine!
Why YES Prep: I started at YES Prep because I thought it would be a challenge to help create an art program in the East End of Houston. I stay because I love the East End students, families and community. It is a place full of art and murals and life. Everyone should spend time in the East End of Houston.
Angelina “Angie” Longoria has worked at YES Prep for 14 years. She currently serves as a senior administrator at YES Prep Southeast.
Favorite Memory: Spring Trips. Although as a parent, I was a little nervous and apprehensive as our two sons, Matt (Class of ’05) and Paul (Class of ’07), went on those trips all across the country. As a chaperone on these trips, however, I had a blast visiting Chicago and Washington DC and receiving an invitation to the White House.
Why YES Prep: In 2000, I was asked to be the evening/Saturday receptionist. Back then, dismissal was at 5:00 and if you had Wall Street, you stayed until 7:00. We also had school on Saturday twice a month with lots of pizza. I said YES! Later on, I was offered a position with the College Counseling department, and I said YES again! It is now 2017, and I am still saying YES! I look back at that group of young, dedicated, driven, energetic hard working teachers, who gave “100% every day,” who instilled “Thinks and Acts” in our students and ourselves, and who also said YES!
Doreen Ormsby has worked at YES Prep for 14 years. She currently serves as a registrar at YES Prep Southeast.
Why YES Prep: This IS the best place to work. Since the day I started in July 2002, I have felt connected to this school because I have seen it grow from one campus to 16. From 60 employees to over 1000. From a graduating class of 19 to a graduating class of over 100. I’ve seen countless scared and overwhelmed 6th graders transform into confident, college-bound young adults.
The growth I have seen is also bittersweet. I miss the days when we were small and only one campus. The home office was literally three people and they were at Southeast. IT was one person at Southeast. But to see Chris Barbic’s vision of serving 10,000 students come true, the impact that YES has on these Houston families, and how proud they are on Senior Signing Day and graduation is unbelievably gratifying and humbling, and I am proud to be a part of it.