Meet Gabriela, a remarkable 6th-grade student who has embarked on a transformative journey of personal growth and empowerment. Her story is a testament to the incredible resilience and strength of character that can be found in young minds when given the opportunity to shine.
Unlocking Social and Emotional Learning:
Throughout the school year, Gabriela discovered the power of expressing her emotions constructively. Not only did she gain control over her thoughts and emotions, shifting perspectives in a way that benefits her, but she also shared the class with “friends who understood [her]; we all had similar problems that we were going through, and we all just understood each other. We were locked in for real for real!” Gabriela also channeled her newfound understanding of healthy coping skills into her music, dance, and writing, finding solace and self-expression in these creative outlets.
Academic Brilliance and Extra-Curricular Excellence:
Gabriela is not only a dedicated student but also a multi-talented individual. Her outstanding grades are a testament to her hard work and commitment to learning. She excels in playing the violin, demonstrates grace in ballet, and spends her summer volunteering as a hospice companion, “I help feed the paralyzed, I paint their nails, I play my violin for them...It’s really fun over there”. Through her musical talents, jokes, and heartfelt stories, Gabriela leaves a lasting impact on the lives of others.
Empowering Families through Shared Knowledge:
Gabriela's mother, Ana, expresses her deep gratitude for her daughter's growth and the positive influence it has had on their family. Gabriela's newly acquired tools and understanding gained while attending GEMS paired with her personal journey have not only helped her cope with challenges but have also empowered Ana as a mother to process setbacks in a more beneficial way. “She would tell me [about GEMS class] and I’m like WOW. Everything she was getting taught by y’all, she was bringing it to me, and I would put it into practice because I would learn from her. Sometimes as parents we’re still learning. It is a blessing in disguise. Blessing!” says her mother, Ana.
Nurturing Safe Spaces:
Ana reveals the challenges they faced with Gabriela's father, and the lack of spaces for Gabriela to express her feelings surrounding those struggles. Gabriela expresses she’s learned to communicate with her dad a bit more and understand his experiences being incarcerated, “I never thought it would be hard for a person to go. I just thought they’re going to serve their time and that’s it. My dad lost friends; he lost family...it was really hard for him”.
Gabriela has successfully graduated from the 6th grade and eagerly anticipates the new adventures that 7th grade will bring. Through her own determination and the support of her loved ones, she has become a resilient, compassionate, and accomplished young individual, ready to conquer any challenges that come her way. Let her remarkable journey inspire us to empower and uplift the next generation, as they possess the potential to become the best versions of themselves.
Pseudonyms were used to protect the identity of our students and their families.