Our teachers and staff members are deeply committed to their work and if you walk through the halls of our schools, this commitment is palpable. However, this commitment doesn’t end when our students leave their schools. From hosting Saturday study sessions at Starbucks before assessments, to driving students to and from school, staff members across our campuses truly do it all.
I give kids rides everywhere… I feel like I’m their dad,” laughs Mike Perez, the Athletic Director and basketball coach at DSST: Conservatory Green. He is no doubt one of those staff members that goes above and beyond. And, he argues, all of his coaches do too.
But, what does going above and beyond for our students really look like? It boils down to building relationships, a sense of mutual trust, and considering the whole child in every situation.
It isn’t new news that the positive effects of student-teacher relationships are profound. At DSST schools our small class sizes truly allow teachers to meaningfully build relationships with their students which help to prevent students from falling through the cracks. Perez feels that in his non-teaching roles as Athletic Director and coach his players “understand that when we’re on the court it’s ‘basketball time’, but as soon as we get off the court that I still love them the same way. And the feeling is mutual.”
“A lot of our coaches at the middle school level, and the high school level go above and beyond… they check on grades and they have those hard conversations with them. Our coaches are always there to support our kids.” Being a reliable support off the court or field, shows students that that they have adults in their school who will be there for them no matter what - which also gives parents and families solace know that their student has the support system they need.
“We talking about developing the whole kid at DSST and I think athletics plays a big part in that,” says Perez. At DSST: Conservatory Green High School, all teams are required to participate in volunteer activities. Perez explains that in just the first year and a half of operation, CG High School students have volunteered at the children’s hospital, held food and clothing drives, and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, among other things. And, they’re not simply requiring it for no clear reason, “we’re having conversations about each experience and how fortunate we are - to play sports, to go to school, and have food.”
“I was lucky enough to have a great support system when I was younger - my parents, my coaches - and I was fortunate enough to get a basketball scholarship to go play. I hope that I can motivate kids so that they can get that opportunity too - to be a first generation college graduate by means of a sport.” Whether it’s volleyball, soccer, basketball, or any other sport, Perez encourages all of his student to use their passion to their advantage.
“One of the biggest rewards [about my job] is watching kids grow, both in the classroom and in their specific sport,” concludes Perez.
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