Position: Associate Manager of Education Quality
What led you to your current position? I started as an SSA for All-In almost three years ago. At the time, I was convinced that I was going to be a teacher. It wasn’t long before I realized teaching wasn’t for me, but I remained committed to our model and SPED. I then became a PA and learned more than I could have ever imagined. I love being able to connect with parents in their native language and work in various settings. I learned a lot about the needs of the population that we work with and have since become obsessed with identifying how systems can be improved. I feel excited when I’m able to create/work something that will enable us to “do better” (shout out to Stacey). When this position opened up, I knew that it was exactly what I wanted to do. It almost felt like the job was made for me! I now enjoy coming to work and doing something that I love daily.
Fun Fact: I was the model for a painting titled “Rattos in the Rain” by Anthony Holdsworth. He gifted me a copy when the original was purchased.
Quote: “I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you”. - Frida Kahlo
What does your average day look like? An average day in the life of Brenda looks like coming into the office and checking emails as soon as I settle in. I have a recurring list of tasks that I tend to, and the the emails work as additional tasks for the day/week. My recurring tasks (but not daily tasks) include SEIS work, expense reports, the NPA renewal application, ordering, interpreting meetings and searching for related service providers. Honestly, no two days look the same for me, and I love that. They’re always changing and there’s something new for me every single day.
Why do you do this work? I grew up in East Oakland and feel passionate about working to improve the systems that have worked to oppress members of my community. One of my very best friends in high school was a SPED student, I met him in my art class, which was the only mainstream class that he was allowed to attend. I remember feeling confused when I learned that his SPED classroom was located in the basement of the school building. I simply could not understand why he was separated and hidden from the rest of us. Through my friendship with him, my perspective on what it means to be a SPED student changed dramatically. That’s why I love the All-In model—all means ALL, while also acknowledging that all students learn differently. I’m not going to say it’s all rainbows and butterflies. This work is challenging and tiring, but I think it’s worth it. Through this work, we are able to support students and families, while directly impacting and encouraging improvements in systems and schools.
What hope do you have for the future of All-In? My hope is that we continue to do the work that we do, and continue to defy the stigma around learning disabilities. I hope that we continue to expand and that the idea behind All-In grows so much that someday there won’t be classrooms in basements. I also hope that the program increases our direct work with families to increase their knowledge of SPED law, and empower them to advocate for the needs of their children. Learning starts at home with our families, so I think it’s imperative that we find a way to start there.