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.

Sonal Pandya has worked at YES Prep for 8 years. She currently teaches AP French and is the 11th grade Co-Chair and Data Czar at YES Prep Southwest. 

Sonal Pandya

Favorite Memory: My favorite memory is taking my first group of AP students (who I had taught for 4 years) to MFAH for a visiting exhibit on Lascaux that was in French.  They did a great job staying “in French” during the visit. We took the metro rail and stopped in Hermann park on the way back to see an art installation one of the students had helped with while volunteering with the National Art Honor Society.  It was a great day of seeing what is possible with our students.

Why YES Prep: At the end of my sample lesson, a student thanked me . He said he had a better understanding of the concept after the lesson.  I was also impressed by how friendly everyone was and the level of engagement of the students.

Leigh Anne Rayburn has worked at YES Prep for 17 years. She currently teaches AP English Language at YES Prep Southeast. 

Leigh Anne Rayburn

Favorite Memory: During the last year that we were in portables at the SE campus, I assigned my students a project after the AP exam.  Their charge was to “define beauty.”  Because the portable buildings were on their way out, we painted the walls and even the ceilings of my classroom with their depictions.  These were students (in the Class of 2009) whom I had taught in 7th, 11th, and 12th grade, and it was a lovely way to spend their final two weeks at YES.wall art 09

Why YES Prep: I came to YES because I’d wanted to be a teacher all my life, but got sidetracked into a fundraising career after college.  While on a visit to YES in the spring of 1999, I immediately knew I had to get back on track, professionally speaking.  I’ve been here ever since for many reasons, most of which are the ones you would expect.  But after the kids, I would say it’s because the people in this place have truly become my family.  I cannot imagine leaving (although my husband has a countdown app on his phone to my retirement in 2027!).

Bryan Reed has worked at YES Prep for 12 years. He currently serves as the School Director of YES Prep Northbrook High School. 

Bryan Reed

Favorite Memory: Senior Signing Day 2010. Not only am I awkwardly fist-pumping in the promotional video from that year, but that was the first year that my students participated in a Senior Signing Day. Of that Class of 2010 from North Central, 5 of my students now work at YES Prep!  (What’s up Lili, Isamar, Mirna, Elizabeth, and Brandon??)

Why YES Prep: I happened upon YES Prep after Hurricane Katrina led me to Houston. I’ve stayed as a result of all of the amazing people, staff, students and families alike, that make up my gigantic YES Prep Houston family.

Kristi Singletary has worked at YES Prep for 6 years. She currently serves as the Director of College Counseling at YES Prep East End.


Favorite Memory: My favorite memory is experiencing Senior Signing Day and Graduation with the Class of 2015. They were the first group of students that I taught. I felt so proud of them for persisting to graduation.

Why YES Prep: I started at YES Prep because I wanted to be in an environment where all students are given all of the opportunities. I wanted students to know that if they desire, they can go to college.

Crystal Visperas has worked at YES Prep for 8 years. She currently teaches AP Literature at YES Prep Gulfton.

Crystal Visperas

Favorite Memory: I hate to be cliché since everyone is reading this, but I can’t choose just one. Seeing nervous yet proud smiles on your former students’ faces during Senior Signing Day. Students exclaiming “Stop Darcy-ing me” in class. Ugly crying when my favorite student presented me with the Kinder Award last year. Crowding into DC’s subway system during rush hour with Gulfton’s first graduating class in 8th grade. These are a few of my favorite things.

Why YES Prep: I was teaching elementary school for two years and serendipitously happened upon an opportunity to teach 8th grade English at a new campus called “YES Prep Revolution” Campus – then Lee, West and South (for all you old timers out there).There are several reasons why I’ve stayed at Gulfton, so here is a just a quick list: autonomy and choice in curriculum, ability to try new leadership positions, helping to create change in the community, and of course, my adorable, awkward and thoughtful students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *