When I think about Maryvale, I think about family and celebration. I think of home, and the generations of families who have lived here, grown up here, and returned to serve our community. I am one of those. Now I’m living out my passion to see our next generation reach their full potential through access to high quality education.
A west-side girl at heart, I returned home five years ago to open EAGLE College Prep Maryvale, and continue the work of instilling a love of learning in the youngest of our community. I am proud to do this work and believe that every child is unique and deserves a full and lasting education. Our school provides a rigorous curriculum and focuses on character development in a safe and supportive environment. When you walk down our halls, you’ll see the smiling faces of young students committed to their work and teachers dedicated to helping them achieve their goals.
For our students and families, I see education as a tool of empowerment in an environment that has its share of complex issues. Despite Maryvale’s strong family values and close-knit connection, a history of poverty, crime, and lack of educational attainment has created a negative cycle passed on through generations. When I opened EAGLE Maryvale, I wanted to empower students with knowledge, starting them off on a path to make choices to live full and meaningful lives. Following the footsteps of teachers who inspired me, I want to enable students in our community to reach their potential and to give back.
When students come to EAGLE, they are performing at all levels – at, above, and below grade level. It’s our commitment to move them forward, helping them excel in learning and in character development. This work is hard and there is no quick fix or magic wand to make it happen outside of grit and determination. Fortunately, we are seeing results. Our students are growing – last year’s internal assessment showed over 60 percent of our students met their expected growth goal in math and students improved on their reading goals by over 10 percentage points in the second semester.
We want to continue the good work we are doing, and we want to become even better. The state is considering a new funding proposal that would reward schools like ours that have worked extremely hard, especially in challenging environments, to provide a high-quality education for students, and who are on the verge of reaching an ‘A’ school grade. If we were given access to this additional funding, called “results-based funding,” we would be able to further invest in a personalized learning experience for our students by creating more robust intervention groups. These could include more staffing for smaller student group sizes, more curriculum options for specific gaps, and more variety in reading materials and resources. Every student is unique and those at our school would benefit from the additional supports.
Maryvale is a vibrant community and I am just one example of many who have grown up here and returned to invest in the next generation of learners and leaders in our community.
Yesenia Fitzhugh is the principal of EAGLE College Prep, Maryvale