Giovanni Ruiz, Stetson Student:
ASPIRA of PA: If you had a friend looking for a school to attend, would you want them to come here? Why?
Giovanni: Yes, because the school has changed and there are no fights anymore. The academics are better and kids don't have time to play around anymore. It's a much better school.
Alejandra Melean, ASPIRA of PA Leadership Club Participant:
ASPIRA of PA: What is the biggest impact ASPIRA of PA has had on you?
Alejandra: The biggest impact would be that the staff gets involved directly with the students. The staff tries to help as much possible to help students in any situation.
Denise Oyola, Hostos Teacher:
ASPIRA of PA: How do you help students enjoy learning?
Denise: To help students enjoy learning I differentiate instruction. I meet them where they are at academically. I provide them with the necessary strategies needed for them to achieve. I try to make sure every student in my class feels successful. I hold them accountable for their learning. I let them know where they are at and where they need to go. My students know it takes hard work to achieve but with hard work comes successes. I also have a sense of humor. The students enjoy this and it motivates them to learn.
Denise Bermudez, Program Manager:
ASPIRA of PA: What inspires you to work with ASPIRA of PA youth?
Denise: I am inspired to work with ASPIRA of PA's youth because they remind me of myself growing up. I lived right around the corner from the main ASPIRA of PA building for my entire teenage life, and experienced the life they have to live every single day. I know firsthand the issues they are facing with dangerous neighborhoods, stereotyping, and people just plain not believing in them. I had great role models in my life, and we at ASPIRA of PA give our youth that same attention that I got as a teenager. Because of the support I had growing up, I have always wanted to give back to my community, and over the years it is what my life has been dedicated to.
Connie Rodriguez, Leadership Club Facilitator:
ASPIRA of PA: What is your best memory of working for ASPIRA of PA?
Connie: My best memory in ASPIRA of PA would be the retreat and our youth graduations. The retreat is more than just a weekend in the woods. This is a time where we all come together and learn about one another. We give our youth knowledge about leadership skills and how to run a successful club in their schools. Two things that stand out for me at the retreat are when we do the reflection pool and the bonfire. At the reflection pool, our students reflect on what they learn or want to gain over the weekend, which is amazing to hear what our youth have to say at that time. At the bonfire, we all sit in a circle and share thoughts and personal things in our life, which can become emotional, but we also come to understand the differences we all have in our lives. Seeing our students graduate is also a memory I will never forget. It’s an amazing feeling to see our youth succeed and become young men and women who are going to college. This makes the staff and I feel that we have accomplished our goals.
Joyce Crosscombe, Hostos Parent:
ASPIRA of PA: Do you feel ASPIRA of PA has added value to the development of your children?
Joyce: Yes!! I have been so impressed with the staff and teachers. They are very committed, respectful, and really care for their students. They all take a great interest in my children, not only educationally, but emotionally as well. They have provided character development classes, take the time to deal with issues that arise, and guide the children through handling conflict.
Judith Rivera, Stetson Parent:
ASPIRA of PA: Compared to last year, what was your experience like this year with ASPIRA of PA?
Judith: This school has turned around 100%. There is a sense of peace when you walk the hallways. Before ASPIRA of PA took over, the teachers were not as supportive as they are now.
Naida Elena Montes, ASPIRA of PA Alumni (ASPIRAnte):
ASPIRA of PA: Who was your role model at ASPIRA of PA?
Naida: It’s hard to say who was my role model. ASPIRA of PA's staff were big role models and motivators. More than anything, they pushed us to be role models in a community where sometimes young role models seem to be scarce.
ASPIRA of PA: What keeps you involved with ASPIRA of PA after all this time?
Naida: They were my launching pad to success. I began to learn about self worth and service through them. They provided opportunity for me to learn and grow. I have an undying dedication and appreciation for all they have done for me.
ASPIRA of PA: Why would you recommend youth to participate in ASPIRA of PA programs?
Naida: Nothing is worth more than the opportunity to cultivate the value and potential of an individual. Through ASPIRA of PA's programs and dedicated staff, an atmosphere of hope and opportunity is created. For many youth, getting involved with ASPIRA of PA will actually be the first time he or she may really realize their worth.