Through a new lens — Saga Education

April 24, 2020

Interview with Jazmin Hernandez, Saga AmeriCorps member, Chicago

March 24, 2020

During the 2019-2020 school year, Saga AmeriCorps member, Jazmin Hernandez, served students at Little Village High School, the same school she attended while growing up in the Little Village neighborhood in Chicago. Her service experience with Saga Education gave her the opportunity to see her community through a new lens.

I was raised in the Little Village community. My parents always stressed the importance of getting an education. I am the first person in my family to graduate from college.  I decided to join Saga Education because I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives and support them in achieving their academic goals. I was excited to find out that one of their sites was my old high school.

I was in my students’ place not so long ago.  I remember having low expectations as to what I could accomplish, and not believing that I could take on challenging work.  I now understand how some of my educators felt.

She emphasized why Saga is in a unique position to help build student confidence.

We all believe that every student has the potential to go above and beyond and accomplish their academic goals no matter their backgrounds. Saga Education is crucial for students in under-served areas, not just because of the support they offer to improve their math skills, but the relationships they’re able to build with the students. Saga AmeriCorps members are encouraged to use this relationship to cultivate a growth mindset, challenge students, and show them that they can accomplish their academic goals.

So far, she has enjoyed developing connections with students and families.

When I first started Saga, I thought that I’d only talk to my students about math or their academics. However, many of my students trust me and are willing to share a lot about themselves, including the personal challenges they are experiencing in and out of school. I have really enjoyed regularly reaching out to parents/guardians. Parents really appreciate our progress reports because their children seldom keep them up to date about school, and teachers do not have the time reach out to families regularly.

The highlight of Jazmin’s experience has been witnessing students realize their potential.

I have really enjoyed seeing a lot of my students grow academically and personally. Many of my students have come a long way from the beginning of the school year. One of my students, Melanie, was failing her algebra class, was coming to class late and missing school last semester because of personal issues. This semester, she really stepped up her game. She attended school more often, was more organized with her homework and even attended Saturday classes. Seeing her motivated meant everything to me. Success isn’t just based on the results of quizzes or tests.

Jazmin believes her service year has been a meaningful experience, where she has learned about herself.

Reflecting on this role, I’ve learned the importance of being patient and not taking things personally. I’ve had experiences with students not wanting to participate in the tutorial, not enjoying it, or who are not in great mood. Through this role, I’ve learned that there are a lot of factors that can contribute to some of these things. Sometimes students do not know how to deal with these challenges. The most important thing to do in these situations is to be patient, listen and motivate students to do their best. I am truly grateful for my service year with Saga, which strengthened my passion for education and inspired me pursue a career in mental health counseling.

As a Saga Americorps member, Jazmin has had the unique opportunity to give back to the high school she attended, where she helped foster students’ confidence, build meaningful relationships with students and families, and helped students realize their potential. Interested in learning more about becoming an AmeriCorps member with Saga Education? Like Jazmin, you’ll be more than an academic coach, you’ll be a mentor. You’ll inspire students to see new paths for themselves. Your Saga experience will prepare you for wherever life takes you, whether it’s graduate school, teaching, or careers in countless other fields.

Return to blog