They say you can’t go home again, but a partnership between Santa Barbara Unified, the PEAC Foundation, and UCSB Gevirtz School of Education is helping graduates return to the District to teach.
The cost of college can be a barrier for many people to get the credentials needed to become a teacher, but a PEAC and UCSB Gevirtz Community Fellowship is helping SB Unified graduates get that education.
For McKinley first-grade teacher Jessica Zamora Sanchez, the fellowship led her to find a career she hadn’t expected.
“I didn’t think I could have achieved my dream of becoming a teacher had it not been for the Fellowship. So when I received the opportunity to attend grad school on a full scholarship, it removed the financial barriers that hindered me from pursuing a teaching career”, said Zamora.
Zamora is one of three teachers at McKinley who went through Santa Barbara Unified schools before returning to teach, thanks to the PEAC and UCSB Fellowship.
“Honestly, it feels like coming home. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be,” said sixth-grade McKinley teacher Adriana Trujillo. She returned to the school after attending it for eight years as a student.
“It’s amazing. My students were shocked and surprised that I came back and that where they’re growing up is where I grew up. They are always constantly asking for pictures of me and my time here [at McKinley],” said Trujillo.
For McKinley third-grade teacher Haidee Jimenez, her experiences of growing up in Santa Barbara help inspire their students by making them feel seen and heard.
“I try to share my experiences to let them know that I am more than their teacher. We have stuff in common,” said Jimenez.
Principal Daisy Estrada Ochoa also went through Santa Barbara Unified before returning after college as an educator. She said there’s a significant value in being able to hire employees who went through district schools.
“Santa Barbara is such a beautiful community, but it’s also very relational. We’re all connected, so having staff from the community is so important. They understand and empathize with many of our families,” said Estrada Ochoa.
Santa Barbara Unified’s PEAC program is a network of support for primarily first-generation college-bound students and in its 13th year of service.
“The PEAC Education Fellowship is an extension of the PEAC program to provide career pathways for local youth,” said PEAC Coordinator Albert Martinez.
It also provides after-school tutoring for all of the District’s four Junior Highs and three primary High School campuses.
“Removing barriers to becoming a teacher will greatly benefit the Santa Barbara community. It creates opportunities for students to enter the field who might not have had the opportunity otherwise. I am so proud of these teachers who returned to serve our community and look forward to seeing how we can support future graduates as well,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, Superintendent.
There have been 10 PEAC Fellows so far, and three are currently attending UCSB’s Teacher Education Program.
“Growing our own talent and creating seamless pathways to the workforce in Santa Barbara is a long-term investment in our community,” said PEAC Foundation Founder Dr. Patricia Madrigal.
The PEAC Career Fellowships are available to graduates of the SBUnified PEAC Program.