Passionate Educator Helping Those Most in Need
Houston, TX (March 19, 2012) - Daniel DeLeon is Principal of César E. Chávez High School, one of Genesys Works’ closest school partners. He is also a loyal supporter of Genesys Works – Houston’s impact and a member of our Board of Directors.
Dan has 22 years experience in public education, having been a principal at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. As an educator, Dan's passion is providing varied and numerous opportunities for students to experience real world activities and learning. Through Dan's leadership, Chávez High School boasts the largest after-school program in Houston, offering opportunities for students to gain credit, recover credit, and participate in numerous non-academic activities.
When Dan became principal at Chávez in 2006, Genesys Works was already there, working at first with a few Chávez students. Dan followed their progress through their summer training in job and professional skills and into their internships. Dan, already familiar with traditional ‘co-op’ (cooperative education) programs, thought, “Okay, this is another co-op program. Then, as I learned more about Genesys Works, I realized that to label it a co-op program did not do it justice.” Dan got to know Rafael Alvarez, Founder and CEO, and his vision for student success.
For Dan, “Genesys Works is different from any other program. Its mission is focused on students who need a change in the current trajectory of their life– students who are quite capable but do not have avenues available to them, or are unaware of the opportunities that could be theirs. Those are the students Genesys Works engages; and that has always been my passion – helping those who most need it. I’m excited by programs that are not targeting just the top 10% of the class, who are already on track. Our country and our very democracy cannot survive if we are helping only the top students. Instead, we need to focus on the 50th percentile and below, the students who need awareness of the opportunities ahead and some coaching on how to get there. Genesys Works does that….takes them and makes them competitive with the best and brightest. In their internships, they get exposure to a big, beautiful world of possibilities and they become producers in the American economy!”
One particular story of student success stands out for Dan. After his training with Genesys Works, a Chávez student was assigned to an internship with TPC Group. Headquartered in Houston, TPC Group is a leader in providing highly specialized lines of chemical products to major chemical and petroleum-based companies worldwide. Dan attended this intern’s “Year in Reflection” speech, which each Genesys Works intern gives toward the end of their senior year internship. The intern told how he had previously been into gangs and drugs, not really knowing what high school or college were about. At Chávez, he heard about Genesys Works, gave it a try, and got into the program. He completed the summer training and landed his internship with TPC Group. He said that his own backyard borders the fence at TPC Group. Before getting his internship, he had no idea what the company did, right there beside his home. He told how the people at TPC coached him, worked with him, helped him learn to succeed, and, along with Genesys Works, gave him the motivation to plan his career and go on to college.
For Dan, it is one of many stories of positive transformation that he has seen at his school. “I came to Chávez with over ten years’ experience as an elementary and middle school principal. Yet, nothing can prepare you for a large, inner city high school with 99% minority, 87% economically disadvantaged, and 78% at-risk students.
The school was a hodgepodge of poorly implemented reform programs and failed school improvement models. As I evaluated the programs and the partnerships at the school, I found only one to be successful—Genesys Works. All other programs were focused on doing things to or for the students. This fledgling program actually engaged students in meaningful experiences with real-life situations that gave them a vision of what their future can be like. Children of poverty often do not see beyond the here and now. They cannot fathom the idea of finishing high school, going to college, and having a professional career. Genesys Works brings that to them in a very real way. I have had countless students express their gratitude for the program with comments such as ‘I had no idea that I could work in that kind of place’, or ‘I now know that I can have a future’. Those students are now in college!”
Thank you, Dan, for helping your students to connect with Genesys Works, giving of your time and expertise, and encouraging others to learn more about our goals and impact.