Editors Note: The following blog, authored by TNSPCS graduate Jonathan Reyes, originally appeared at The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools blog on May 17, 2017. This blog was part of The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools 30 Days of Grad series, which featured stories from charter school graduates from across the country during National Charter Schools Week.
Growing up in a single parent household with my two sisters was a lot of work for me as a kid. As the only male in my house, I had a lot of responsibilities and had to learn on my own. I was constantly taking care of my sisters while at the same time making sure my mother had everything she needed. As a kid, I always appreciated how hard my mother worked to make sure my sisters and I had everything we needed. She always made sure we had food and new uniforms for school every year. It was important to my mother that my sisters and I were fluent in Spanish, so every summer break she would send us to school in El Salvador.
As a teenager, I attended three of my local high schools. I was withdrawn out of each one due to poor attendance. I am not proud of my high school years, but since that time, I’ve been on a mission to set and achieve new goals. My most recent achievement is earning my General Education Diploma (GED) from the The Next Step Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. This was not an easy accomplishment. I worked full time and had to work from 7:45 a.m. until 5 p.m. and then I would rush to evening school, which took place from 6 - 9 p.m.
Even though it was rough, I had to push through the struggles to be able to make it where I am now. Before The Next Step PCS, I had a hard time in school and it was through that long and tough episode in my life that I came to the conclusion that I was heading down the wrong path. The Next Step PCS gave me that second chance I needed, and the teachers helped encourage and support my goals. Ever since my first day there, the school always had a sense of good energy. Every day I'm thankful for the teachers and staff. They never doubted my capabilities.
The advice and attention they give each of their students was like no other or what I had experienced in my previous schools. They motivated me to set goals even after graduation. I’m excited to start working towards my goal of becoming a firefighter for the Washington, D.C. fire department, starting with the DC Fire Department Cadet program this summer.