We recently spoke with Francisco Sanchez, Categorical Program Advisor at Figueroa Street Elementary School, and here’s what he had to share about some newly learned experiences.

Francisco’s teachers believed in him and in return he believes in all his students.

The last academic year presented challenges and opportunities. What opportunities arose at Figueroa Street Elementary? 

The closing down of schools was devastating for many of our families, and it became a difficult and frustrating experience for everyone. At Figueroa Street Elementary, we got a glimpse into the delicate situations in which our students find themselves every day. We felt it our professional responsibility to take action and rethink procedures and approaches to education. We made safe, social-distanced home visits to check on the well-being of our students and their families and made sure they had all the resources needed for distance learning.

What led you to a career in education? 

I have been in education for 19 years. I started by attending LAUSD schools since pre-school at 102nd Street Elementary, Markham Middle, Bret Harte Middle, and Jordan High. There were many moments during my education when I felt a lack of guidance and resources from my schools. However, I can also say that there were people in my educational path who helped shape my life; like teachers who cared for me and took the time to make me feel important. So I felt inspired and motivated to try my best in school. To this day, I still feel encouraged by them. Their interest in my future impacted my life tremendously!  I will be forever grateful to them and I’m happy to follow in their same footsteps. They taught me the importance of having someone believe in you, and that’s why I believe in all of our students.

You recently graduated from the Partnership Leadership Fellows at UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute (PLF@PLI). How did you learn and get involved with it? 

The Partnership has been promoting PLF@PLI for many years now. I was always interested in the program, but I was hesitant to participate due to my workload. After speaking with previous PLF@PLI cohort members, I decided to apply to the program, which ended up shifting my educational philosophy. I would recommend PLF@PLI to anyone who is passionate about education, even if they are not interested in becoming an administrator.

What was the program like and how will you use your newfound skills? 

PLF@PLI has been a genuine experience and a model for the authentic “Culture of Care” that is so desperately needed in our educational system. Gaining new knowledge and more awareness of the inequities and biases that exist in our school systems and communities has compelled me to demand change because our students deserve the best. As an educator, I now possess the unwavering inner strength to push back on the deficit thinking regarding our students and their families. With my new skills, I want to lead my school in transforming how we measure student success and focus on providing instruction that gives all students opportunities and attainable success.