Rosa Ayala spends her days empowering English learners as a translator/interpreter at her high school alma mater, East Palo Alto Academy. In the summer, Rosa works as a site director (Aim High’s equivalent of a school principal) at our East Palo Alto campus. We posed the following 8 questions to Rosa. Her responses shed light on the Aim High “magic.” Enjoy!
Where did you grow up, and who was your biggest influence during this time? I grew up in a rural community in El Salvador. My biggest inspiration was my mom. She immigrated to the United States when I was two years old and my little sister only 5 months old. My mom couldn’t go back to El Salvador so we were raised by my grandmother.
Why did you become an educator? I decided to work in education because in my country, not all kids have the opportunity to go to school. When I immigrated to the U.S at the age of 15, I met Rebecca Altamirano, one of my most influential teachers. She interviewed me when I enrolled in high school. She became my role model and my inspiration to attend college.
Tell us about your career path. Since I was 6 years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, I worked for Americorps so I could gain teaching experience. I loved it, but soon after I discovered that I love working as a translator/interpreter. I went back to school and graduated as a Spanish/English translator/interpreter.
What is the most rewarding part of your job as a year-round educator in East Palo Alto? The most rewarding part of my job is seeing students succeed and passing their classes after struggling so much.
Please share a favorite story from your teaching experience. I planned to move to Los Angeles a few years ago, but I started working with a group of English learners who were in their freshman year. I wanted to see them graduate from high school so I decided to stay until they did. Last school year, I attended their high school graduation and it was a very special moment for me to see them achieving their goals.
Why do you teach at Aim High? I work at Aim High because it is a unique summer program that provides students with a fun learning experience. Teachers, families and students work toward a common goal: to prepare our students to be successful in life, and to provide opportunities that are not available during the school year.
What do you like to do in your free time? During my free time I like to read, go on walks and take my niece to the movies. I love spending time with my friends too! I also take the time to volunteer as an interpreter at Operation Access, a healthcare organization.
How does Aim High influence your teaching style during the academic year? Aim High influences my teaching style because every year I grow as a leader. It inspires me to give my best and make changes in the community. I enjoy every single day of the summer program!
Aim High’s educators are the heartbeat of our program. Thank you to Rosa for 10+ of service and leadership in East Palo Alto.