ESD Spotlight: ESD 123 Migrant Student Looks to the Future

Dec 10, 19

ESD Spotlight
Leonardo Castaneda

This December, Leonardo Castaneda, a student with the ESD 123 Migrant Education Program, will be on track to graduate on time with his high school class in June, after completing a 5 ½ month residency with the Washington Youth Academy (WYA), a military-based credit recovery program located in Bremerton, Washington.

Leonardo was struggling to earn enough credits to graduate on time when staff from the ESD 123 migrant program came to his school. The migrant program at ESD 123 is dedicated to supporting students of migrant families whose education is interrupted when their families have to move for seasonal or temporary work. Ensuring that these students have the opportunities and resources needed to earn their high school diploma or GED is the primary focus.

Through the migrant program, Leonardo began completing PASS (Portable Assisted Study Sequence) packets, semi-independent high school courses designed to enable migrant students to earn additional credits. Juan Hurtado, Out of School Youth/Health Coordinator, and Viviana Magallon, Migrant Family and Youth Advocate, then suggested he join the WYA to earn the credit needed to get on track for graduation while receiving a unique learning opportunity.

Juan Hurtado
Juan (Johnny) Hurtado,
Out of School Youth/Health Coordinator                      
Viviana Magallon
Viviana Magallon,
Migrant Family & Youth Advocate

Initially, Leonardo was reluctant to leave his family to attend the residency portion of the WYA on the other side of the state; however, Mr. Hurtado and Ms. Magallon continued to encourage him to apply during meetings with Leonardo and home visits with his family. With the support of his family, Leonardo eventually agreed. The migrant program assisted him through the application process and helped cover the expenses involved so he could attend.

“I came to the Washington Youth Academy to help my family,” he said. “I’m showing I can give them a good future.”

Leonardo says having to leave his family and learn to do things on his own has been the greatest challenge, but the experience of meeting new people and coming to consider the friends he’s made there as his brothers, helped him overcome his worries and learn to express himself. He also says the continued support of Mr. Hurtado as his mentor has been a great help
as well.

“He showed me that I need to be mentally tough and stable with all that I need to do,” said Leonardo.

In addition to the academic classes, physical training, and community service Leonardo has done as a cadet in the WYA, he has regular mentor meetings with Mr. Hurtado. During one meeting, Mr. Hurtado traveled to Bremerton during one of Leonardo’s community service days to work alongside him to clean up a youth camp. Mr. Hurtado says Leonardo’s growth during these meetings has been evident, and is even more so through letters Leonardo has written to him during his residency.

“It’s been exciting seeing his transformation from beginning to end,” says Mr. Hurtado. “He is now much more future-oriented.”

Leonardo says he appreciates the Washington Youth Academy for this opportunity, and wants to thank Mr. Hurtado and Ms. Magallon at ESD 123, his parents, and his brothers at the WYA, Angel, Brian, and Brycel, for their support.

Leonardo will complete his residency in December and although he will graduate from the Washington Youth Academy, his future is still ahead. Leonardo will return to graduate from his high school in June, and plans to join the Job Corps after school as a mechanic, pursuing his long-time interest in the automotive industry and opportunities he discovered during his time at the WYA. Mr. Hurtado will continue to provide support and guidance to keep him on track toward his goals and coach him in decision-making.

Those interested in learning more about the services and opportunities offered by the ESD 123 Migrant Education Program to students like Leonardo are encouraged to visit the ESD 123 Migrant Education web page.

Originally posted by ESD 123

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