AP Student Panel: Lessons from Those We Teach
AP Student Panel: Lessons from Those We TeachMaria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux, Director, Communications
Francisco Cortes, vice president of Fox News Latino, captured the goal of Prepárate best at the closing plenary: “You have so many talented educators and so many talented influencers from all walks of life who come here — so why not say hi, say hola, connect and see how you can empower each other and the Latino community.”
As the moderator of a panel called “Student Voices: Learning from Those We Teach,” Cortes connected us to three outstanding students from high schools that received the Gaston Caperton Opportunity Award this year: Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino, CA, and Gettys D. Broome High School in Spartanburg, SC.
Below are some of the insights they had to offer. (Quotes have been lightly edited and condensed.)
Cortes: What keeps you motivated to graduate and go to college?
Maria Velasco, senior at Arroyo Valley High School: My motivation now is definitely not wanting to let all of my teachers' efforts go to waste.
Cortes: Have you had to overcome any obstacles in high school?
Alicia Poole, senior at Gettys D. Broome High School: As an introvert, I found that my personality has hindered my learning experience a lot, because I didn’t ask questions in class andI didn’t verbally participate. I also tend to take on more than I can handle. Unfortunately, in my junior and senior years of high school, I had to drop an AP class because I could not handle the workload. At the time I did really feel like a failure, but I really realized the value of knowing what I can and can’t handle. Now I can better manage my AP classes and it has led to greater success.
Cortes: Do you feel academically prepared for college? Or, if you don’t feel prepared, what do you wish your high school or college should do more of?
Maddie Norton, senior at Gettys D. Broome High School: I feel really prepared for college, especially because of my AP courses. I am in AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP English Literature, and AP English Language. When I go off to college, if I score well, which I believe I will, I know that I can skip the freshman courses that are required and go straight to classes that pertain to my major… I think my school would benefit if we really push AP.
Cortes: How would you describe process of finding the right college for you? What could have made it easier?
Velasco: I really haven’t found the college for me yet, but I narrowed it down to USC and UCLA. I got to that point by taking a lot of factors into consideration, like average class size, location, and research opportunities. But I am really stuck between the two and so I resorted to asking my peers, teachers, and coordinators for advice. The problem was, rather than getting advice from them, I was getting an opinion, and that makes students’ decisions very difficult. I think it is important for parents, teachers, whomever to understand that just because a school might be the most prestigious in the country or the state, it’s not necessarily best for that student. There is not a right college, but there is a right college for you.
Cortes: What is one piece of advice to educators in the audience?
Norton: I always know that I have the possibility to go to one of my teachers and talk to them. Create this connection with your students — have the time, make the time to go out and just be friends, keep the student relationship. Create this friendship so they know that they are not alone, because you don’t know what is going on in their lives. That’s how you are going to get your students to go to class, to enjoy and engage.
Poole: “Encouragement is very important because I think it is really easy for student to give up. When they are taking four, five, even six AP classes at a time, they may just want to give up. For example, at the beginning of the year, I was signed up to AP Calculus and I said no, I am not doing that, not Calculus, definitely not AP — but my teacher sat down with me and she told me scoring is not the most important thing. “If you take this class and you don’t score, I promise you will be still prepared for college,” she said. Now I am in AP Calculus, and I think I’ll definitely score thanks to the encouragement and support I got from my teacher. I think it’s important for teachers to realize students need as much support as they can get.