Author: Mark Raygosa
Principal, Lytle Junior High School
I have learned that sometimes things don’t always work out like you hoped. I never envisioned a career in education, being a teacher, yet alone becoming a principal of a campus. I credit my Associate degree, Bachelor’s degree, and Master’s degree to the people that encouraged and supported me on my journey when I was unsure of what to do. Those that know me well, know that my dream job growing up was to be a game warden. Well, that didn’t quite work out.
Growing up, I considered myself an average student. As I look back and reflect, I recall that school was not very difficult for me, however I didn’t take advantage of it at the time. I put forth little effort and could get by with mostly A’s and B’s. It was my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Johnson that told me how smart I was and had encouraged and challenged me to be better. She saw something in me that I didn’t see. I talked a lot and was frequently off task in her class. Instead of getting into trouble, she challenged my work effort and pushed me. She always had encouraging words and supported me. I started working harder in class for her. The harder I worked the easier it became.
Little did I know that I would be the first in my family to go to college. Like other first time college students, I didn’t have anyone to guide me or give sound advice. My school counselor told me that I wouldn’t make it at a four year college and that I should go to a junior college. That was a little disheartening. My parents wanted me to just go to college, but they, nor I, knew where to start. I was convinced that I couldn’t make it at a four year college, even though I had no idea what a four year college was.
I ended up graduating with an associates degree and I was proud of my accomplishment. One of my professors and mentors encouraged me to go further and pursue the entire four year degree. I was unsure about it, but he was persistent in pushing me and explained the opportunities I would have by obtaining a bachelor’s degree. I listened and I finished my degree, made the Dean’s List, and completed some internships with law enforcement agencies. Some of the most impacting people in my life were the professors I had, as well as the professionals I met in the field that I was pursuing. Following graduation, I had a successful career in the field of juvenile probation. I worked at the county and state level and found myself working for the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission in Austin. I continued my education and was able to obtain my master’s degree.
After working with children on the wrong side of the law, I was determined to work with them before they were in trouble or in the system, so I decided that I would become a teacher. I began teaching at a middle school in San Antonio. I knew right away that I made the right decision and enjoyed my time teaching and mentoring students. My calling was working with the most troubled and discouraged students. Being a mentor and a positive force in their lives was what I enjoyed doing.
Now, as a school administrator, I find myself at Lytle ISD working on the implementation of the CEN initiative. I am excited that students, much like myself at their age, will now have opportunities in high school that will help launch their careers. Students will have a support system to assist them in pursuing their college degree or obtain a technical certification. In the CEN P-20 model, students and parents will have an understanding, from early on, of the different career choices and possibilities available to them. The students will have teachers at each grade level to support them in achieving their goals. Teacher support and encouragement is core to this model. Through the model, we no longer have to worry about that “first in the family to go to college” student being unsure of what to do, or how to do it.
At Lytle ISD we are providing life changing opportunities for the families of first time college students as well as other career minded students. I was fortunate to have key people encourage me along the way. I now have the opportunity to pay it forward to the students on my campus. I often wonder where I would be if I had been a student in the P-20 model. Who knows, maybe I would have become a game warden.