Undergraduate Degree: Northeastern University
Graduate Degree: New York University
Few people can recite the name of their father’s high school guidance counselor, but it is a name Sam will never forget. His dad, a first-generation Puerto Rican immigrant whose parents had not attended college, credits his admittance to Harvard University to this invested guidance counselor. Sam’s father, whose parents primarily spoke Spanish, hadn’t understood the possibilities that existed for him until his guidance counselor helped him believe in his academic potential and take advantage of college opportunities. When it came time for Sam to attend high school in Cambridge, Mass., he saw firsthand how a great guidance counselor impacted his experiences and his feelings of belonging in the school community. His appreciation for the tremendous impact guidance counselors can have on students’ lives fueled his desire to major in sociology, work in an after-school program throughout college and earn a master’s degree in school counseling.
Sam was a founding school counselor at a high-performing public charter high school in Brooklyn, where he saw the founding class of students grow from freshmen to graduating seniors before accepting the role of founding school counselor at AF Brownsville Middle. His days are filled with classroom observations and check-ins with students, with his primary focus on students who require counseling as part of their IEPs. Sam likes the opportunity to work closely with deans, help build relationships with students, and find new and different ways to help struggling students. He also runs the schoolwide academic and character celebration—Community Circle—each Friday, as well as the AF Brownsville Afterschool Experience, which includes offerings like chess and drama. As the school grows, Sam, who played Division I baseball and football before transferring to Northeastern University, plans to coach one of its athletic teams.
Favorite aspect of role: “I love seeing students support one another during Community Circle. There is such positive energy. Every week, I look forward to impacting their lives hopefully half as much as they do for me on those Fridays.”
Proudest Moment: “I was proud to see all of our staff, students and families come together during Family Game Night and the Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner. We all need to work together to create a great school, but we didn’t talk about school on either night. These events were about us coming together as people who care for each other as a true family would, and that is what I love about AF Brownsville Middle.”