Pearl Arredondo remembers the night she came home to her dad convulsing on the floor as he overdosed, and homework wasn’t on her mind. Every student has a story, and Arredondo shares hers in an arresting Ted Talk that confronts the realities of facing difficult circumstances. When she found her dad that day, Arredondo’s life outside of school came into the classroom. Her educational journey of perseverance ended with a degree from Pepperdine University and a return to the school she attended as a child. Arredondo’s experience taught her that students need support networks to make sure they don’t become victims of their own circumstances. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a struggle, and sometimes students need a teacher that can motivate and inspire them to move past their struggles. In a traditional school, Arredondo found she couldn’t create an environment that allowed teachers to learn the story of each student while providing the rigorous and relevant curriculum they deserved. Eventually, her passion led her to start her own school — the San Fernando Institute of Applied Media where teachers are only employed with one-year contracts, and the school has complete control over the curriculum and budget. In her Ted Talk, Arredondo recalls there was opposition stemming from fear of change, to which she responded, “Yeah, what if we get it wrong, but what if we get it right?” Currently in its third year, The San Fernando Institute of Applied Media has seen test scores go up more than 80 points. Sometimes you have to step outside of the system and create your own solution. Arredondo asserts that students deserve quality schools they can be proud of.
If you enjoyed this video watch Ted Talks for Teachers featuring Sir Ken Robinson