Before De La Salle Academy (DLSA), I did not understand the concept of working hard for my academic achievements, because prior to joining DLSA, I attended a school where I wasn’t challenged, and didn’t need to work hard to do well academically. Once I joined the DLSA community, it became clear that achieving academic excellence was going to require lots of hard work. I remember Algebra being one of those subjects that was especially challenging. For me and many of my classmates, this was the first time we really had to make a strong effort to do well. Being pushed in this way wasn’t easy, and there were many times that I had to push past my frustration. However, my experiences prepared me for future struggles and challenges. Looking back, I truly appreciate DLSA and Brother Brian’s vision. He always said that he believed the middle school years were the most important for intellectual development. After teaching middle and high school science for nearly 20 years, I have seen the wisdom of this first hand.
Accepting DLSA’s invitation to join this coveted community meant that I was also accepting the long journey ahead, one that would help me learn more about myself, how I relate to the world and the people in it. Every interaction and experience, no matter how big or small, would impact me in some way. From riding the 2 train from 149th Street and Grand Concourse to 96th Street and Broadway, to meaningful conversations with Brother Brian, and everything in between helped me grow and mature. When I think about the lessons I learned at DLSA, one memory really sticks out. Brother Brian saw me doing something inappropriate as I entertained my tablemates at lunch one day. He pulled me to the side and said, “Never compromise your personal integrity for a laugh.” This has stuck with me ever since. I’ve even used this line a few times during my career as an educator.
Currently, I teach as a middle school science teacher in the Bronx. Everyday, I reflect on my experience at DLSA and apply that to my daily practice. I remember how I struggled as a student, and how I used to daydream in class. I did not appreciate all the things my teachers did to prepare lessons and connect with students. Now, whenever I encounter a challenging student, I mentally travel through time to find a way to relate to their struggle. I remember how my teachers at DLSA made me feel. DLSA always made me feel safe and at home. The streets outside were dangerous and scary at times, but school was a sanctuary. That is how I want my school to feel for my students, so I try to emulate this experience for my kids.
Thanks to DLSA and Brother Brian, I learned the valuable lesson of hard-work and it has served me well throughout my entire life.