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I’m a lifelong Azusa resident, having attended Longfellow, Mountain View, Slauson, and Gladstone High School. Though my family moved around Azusa quite a bit, I was fortunate to be able to start and finish each segment at each of the schools listed. Though I was usually able to maintain a solid GPA, the allure of acting up in and out of class often got the best of me and I spent plenty of time in the office as a result. That, coupled with racial tensions that existed within Azusa during my middle and high school years (1997-2004), among other obstacles, made for a tumultuous childhood.
My first job out of high school was working as a Noon Supervisor at Slauson, my former middle school. The principal that year was a former administrator at Gladstone High School, and due to the trouble I regularly got myself into, he was very familiar with who I was. Still, he was willing to offer me a shot and hired me for the position. That position evolved into a role as an RSP Instructional Aide and eventually an SDC Instructional Aide where I worked for 4 years.
It was through this experience that I discovered my passion and calling for serving young people who grew up in this community just as I did. I worked for a year as a Program Leader for THINK Together when the program first entered the district, which opened my eyes to the tremendous impact after-school hours have on the life of a young person. Directly after, in 2007, I took a position at Neighborhood Homework House. I worked as the Teen Program Director for 7 years before launching my own youth mentorship organization here in Azusa in 2013 called MYTHIRDPLACE.
I’ve served as the Founder/Executive Director of MYTHIRDPLACE since. MYTHIRDPLACE’s mission is to create environments for teens to grow in faith, develop character, and mature relationally through mentorship and discipleship. As a faith-based non-profit, we serve middle and high school teens in Azusa from various backgrounds and with differing beliefs. It is our conviction that a child’s teenage years are tender and vital to launching them on a trajectory for rest of their lives, and we make it our mission to see to it that they have mentors to support them through academics and life in general.
For the past 10 years, I have simultaneously served as a Youth/Community Pastor, at Vineyard Church Glendora for 5 years, as well as for the past 5 at Foothill Community Church here in Azusa, where I still am now. I also worked as an Experiential Learning Educator for Pathways in Education, which services Azusa students attending Options for Youth. In addition to and apart from this, I’ve served as an Advisory Board Member for the Mayor’s Youth Council in Azusa, Executive Board Director at Just Us 4 Youth in Pomona, and as an Advisory Board Member for Urban Youth Workers Institute, a national youth organization through which I have traveled to teach and speak to youth and youth workers across the country.
I currently reside in the Atlantis Garden neighborhood here in Azusa with my wife and 7-year-old daughter. Since pre-school, she has attending schools in Azusa and is currently a 2nd grader. I believe that parental support is a child’s greatest resource and have made it a point to remain highly active as a fingerprinted and district-approved volunteer since she began. It has been my joy to volunteer in her class to read, for parties, rainy days, field trips and more.
As an AUSD parent, I’ve also served as a parent representative on PAC+, Citizens’ Oversight Committee, Lee PTA, Vice President of the Lee School Site Council, and the Azusa Leaders for Learning Foundation.
Through these various roles, I’ve gained first-hand knowledge of some of the amazing things our schools have to offer. I’ve also learned of the many amazing accomplishments our students have achieved. But I have also heard the news, read conversations online, and spoken with students, parents, teachers, and more about some of AUSD’s challenges.
One of my life mantras is “create what you wish existed,” and I try to live by this in all I put my energy to. Over these past few years, I’ve felt my heart become more and more burdened by various things concerning AUSD and sensed a deep desire to become even more involved through an elected role on the Azusa School Board.
I believe that, with the support of the community, there is more I can do to identify and address the root causes of declining student and teacher retention, rebuild trust and develop relationships with community stakeholders, and ensure fiscal responsibility and transparency through community collaboration.
I hold onto hope of a community that puts its differences aside to collaborate and give Azusa’s most precious resource continuing opportunities for a thriving future. No one person can do it on his or her own, but I believe we can do much as a united community. I’m inviting you to join me in being a difference maker. I’m asking for your trust and vote this November.
As a lifelong Azusa resident and product of Azusa Unified School District, I’ve spent my entire adult life working with kids in Azusa. Over the past 15 years I have worked with AUSD, local non-profits, as a youth pastor, and through various boards and committees in the city. Through the relationships that have been built with parents, kids, families, teachers, and as a parent of an AUSD student myself, I understand the challenges our students face. These are important times and we face critical issues within the school district. With the support of my community, I believe there is more I can do to serve and more ways I can advocate for our youth. I invite you to join me in being a difference maker and I humbly ask for your trust and your vote this November.
I will ask the hard questions and seek the difficult truth about why our schools are losing such an abundance of students and teachers so we can begin to solve the problem.
We need to focus attention on identifying the root cause of the exodus of AUSD students by speaking with parents, teachers, students and more who have left. What are we not doing that is causing students and teachers to leave, and what are other school districts doing right that is attracting them? Once we understand the cause, we can begin to create relevant, effective, and innovative solutions.
I will be a bridge-builder to rebuild trust and develop relationships among leaders in our schools, businesses, law enforcement, local government, neighborhoods, homes, and more.
Azusa is unlike any other city in the resources that it has at its disposal. Lack of trust among those whose influence plays a major role in our students’ development prevents us from using these resources to reach our greatest potential. It’s time to start repairing trust and work together again.
I will work with teachers, parents, and other community members to make sure our budget directs funds responsibly and is created with transparency and collaboration to reflect the wishes of our community.
Due to declined enrollment, AUSD has less money to spend on our students and now more than ever we need to make responsible choices with the monies we have that prioritizes our kids first. We need to bring community members in on the details of tough decisions that need to be made, and create accessible places and times for them to inform these decisions before they are made.