San Mateo Adult School
Nominated in 2018
Wendy Samayoa came to the U.S. from Guatemala in July 2016 and in August of the same year started studying at San Mateo Adult School as a High Intermediate English as a Second Language (ESL) student. In 2017, she also started studying for her High School Diploma. In her country, Wendy had attended university and was a teacher, so learning ESL and having to get her Diploma here in the U.S. was like starting her education all over again. But that didn't stop Wendy from getting involved at the school.
In the summer of 2017, Wendy joined the school's Ambassador program, a position which she continues to hold today. In this capacity, Wendy helps with registering new students and making them feel welcome, offering translation/interpretation services, and conducting new student orientations.
In fall 2017, Wendy successfully campaigned for Student Council President and has served in this leadership role for the entire 2017-18 school year. During her tenure, she has helped to increase student participation in the student council process, led student council meetings, conducted student council officer meetings, made presentations to the school board, attended community needs workshops, and presented at the 2018 COABE national conference and CCAE state conference on "Student Leaders as Agents of Change." She is highly skilled in technology and has a keen eye for design, using Google and Microsoft platforms to create presentations, write speeches and draft meeting agendas, and more. She even designed a brand new logo for the San Mateo Adult School student council.
Wendy is a natural leader; her charisma, intellect, management, organization, selflessness, and big heart make people want to follow her. She has been a pioneer in two San Mateo Adult School pilot programs offered in the Spring 2018 semester. The first of these is the ESL City Government Academy, a collaborative program between the City of San Mateo and the San Mateo Adult School, the objectives of which are to empower participants to feel comfortable accessing City services, help participants feel prepared to engage further with the City, and expand the networks of sponsoring agencies for future civic engagement efforts. This program was recognized by the San Mateo City Council, the meeting at which Wendy gave a speech about her experience as the cohort spokesperson. She also wrote an article for publication in Easy English Times documenting her experience.
The second pilot program was the "ESL Eat Healthy Be Active Community Health Program." Wendy was instrumental in the administrative preparations for this five-workshop program, making sure all of the materials were ready to go, food tastings were set up and beautifully displayed, and serving as a teacher's aide to the instructor. She also served as the photographer for the program, helping to document it every step of the way. It was obvious from her participation that she enjoys being in the classroom.
Speaking of the classroom, Wendy has been an excellent resource for providing language and translation support services to beginning ESL classes. Her teaching abilities really shine through when she is working with the students and it is because of this and all of the examples provided here that she has been encouraged her to pursue her career as a teacher here in the United States.
In addition to all of these things, Wendy works at an attorney's office five days a week in the afternoons. It is amazing she finds time to do all of the things that she does. She is an incredible person and leader.
Wendy graduated from the High School Diploma program in June 2018 and is planning to study ESL at the community college beginning in spring 2019 once she finishes the ESL program at San Mateo Adult School. This summer she started volunteering at the school as a teacher's aide in a low beginning ESL classroom in the evenings and she also plans to continue working at her current employer while continuing her studies and investigating what she needs to do to pursue her career in teaching.