press releases

Counselor Connects with Students - Adviser Faced Many of the Same Struggles

Counselor Connects with Students – Adviser Faced Many of the Same Struggles

February 02, 2017

Ana Marquez sees a lot of herself in her students.

At 21 years old, the student adviser is not much older than the kids she counsels at San Antonio Can High School, a charter southwest of downtown. A few years ago, she also graduated from a Texas Can Academies campus in River Oaks, near Fort Worth. She went through many of the same struggles with life at school and home that her students grapple with.

When Marquez was 14, she was unruly and aggressive, involved with gangs with her two older sisters. Four days into her freshman year at a Fort Worth public high school, she fought with a classmate, delivering retribution to a girl responsible for an attack on her siblings days earlier.

All three sisters were expelled.

Raised by a single mother who juggled jobs to make ends meet, the sisters rarely found support at home. They frequently fought among themselves and with others. After being expelled, the girls tried to enroll at three other public schools in the area, but their troublesome reputation preceded them. No one would take them.

After two months out of school, the girls and their mother appeared in truancy court. The judge issued a $500 fine and an edict: Get the girls back in school.

The family found Texas Can Academies, a charter network that allowed the two younger girls to quickly enroll, while the oldest pursued a GED.

In a fresh environment, Marquez could finally focus on school. Despite her behavioral problems, she had always been a good student. At the school she also found individualized support in the form of a counselor who frequently checked in on her and helped her stay on track. She took advantage of the charter’s flexible scheduling, which allows students to attend class during morning or afternoon blocks and work at their own pace. By doubling up on classes, Marquez managed to graduate early — as valedictorian — when she was 16.

“We take kids that don’t fit anywhere else,” said Dan Cahalen, chief development officer for Texas Can Academies.

Several years later, Marquez was a senior at Sam Houston State University, studying criminal justice and political science, when she ran into another roadblock. She found out she was pregnant, and she worried about paying for her final year. She had already struggled to afford her junior year, scraping together tuition by working at a Chinese fast-food restaurant.

At a Texas Can luncheon where Marquez was invited to speak, she mentioned her conundrum to Cahalen. One thing led to another, and Marquez was offered an advising position at Texas Can’s Lancaster campus. In August, Marquez transferred to San Antonio.

Now one class away from finishing her degree, Marquez has dreams of becoming an attorney. But for the time being, she’s focused on guiding students, often using her own experiences to connect with them. Whether her students are grappling with neglect and trauma at home or problems at school, Marquez can empathize with them.

“Hey, I was where you were at too,” Marquez likes to tell her students.

On a recent Tuesday morning, Esperanza Mares sat in front of Marquez. On a file cabinet behind the desk was a wooden sign that read “They told me I couldn’t. That’s why I did.”

During their meeting, Marquez marveled at Mares’ progress, noting that she was on pace to complete her graduation requirements by next January. Marquez helped her research how to apply at St. Mary’s University, her dream school. Throughout, Marquez explained her own experiences with choosing her major and taking the optimal classes to prepare for law school.

If it weren’t for Marquez, the 16-year-old junior might not have been sitting there. Last year, Mares had trouble with some classmates, and she was on the verge of leaving the school. After driving to the student’s house, Marquez urged her to not worry about what others said. Mares changed her mind about dropping out.

“All they really need is for someone to listen,” Marquez said.

Download and
Read Full Article


Social Media Hub

Copyright © 2022 Texans Can Academies. All Rights Reserved | 501(c)(3) non-profit organization EIN is 75-2251099.

Custom web design by: Big D Creative | Sitemap

STAAR Testing Begins Dec. 6th