Amazing Things are Happening at my Son’s Charter School: A Teacher takes the Time to Encourage and Support a Student

If you would have told me two years ago my son would be playing an instrument, I would have said no way! Well, fast forward to years and here we are, he is not only playing electric guitar, but he is also playing bass and acoustic.  I always knew that he loved music and wanted to learn to play, but we couldn’t find a program or a teacher what would take on teaching a child on the spectrum that has had a history of fine motor challenges.

My son’s charter school PUC Early College Academy For Leaders and Scholars (eCals) has a music program and when he told us that he was interested in taking it as an elective I was a little apprehensive because he had no musical experience with playing an instrument or reading music.  We encouraged him anyway.

It was the best thing we could have ever done. Sometime as parents, we can be limiting our children out of fear, but that has all changed for our family!

My son has been in the school music class for two years now, and he is exceeding everyone’s expectations. We have discovered that he has a real gift for music, and this discovery has been life changing to say the least. We are so fortunate that his music teacher has had the patience to teach him and mentor him.  Music classes at this charter are geared towards all abilities. They are inclusive and so supportive.

Enrique went from not knowing how to play to performing at school assemblies, school events, and at opportunities outside the school as well. He is mainly plays by ear and is slowly learning to read music. He is also learning other aspects of music like music theory and composing original riffs.

Music has been the lifeline for my son. He went from having no friends and being socially awkward to being asked to be in a band. And we are happy to report that he is developing friendships through music.

It took that special effort made by his teacher to bring meaning and a new found passion for my son.

My son was recently awarded for his community service and advocacy, and his teacher was there to support him as well when he was receiving the award.

The recent highlight for my son has been the acceptance to the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), month long summer program. His teacher wrote a letter of recommendation and encouraged him to apply, and he was just accepted with a full scholarship.

This teacher has inspired my son to want to pursue music professionally. We need more teachers like Aaron Smith!

What do you think?

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Lisette Medina Duarte

Lisette Medina Duarte

Co-Chair at State Council on Developmental Disabilities

Lisette Medina-Duarte is a bilingual Los Angeles native. She grew up in Northeast Los Angeles’ Highland Park and graduated from Franklin High School. She continues to live in Highland park with her husband and her two children, who are on the autism spectrum. One of her children is in a charter school and the other is in a traditional public school. She has a strong passion and commitment to working with underserved and underprivileged communities. She is a grassroots organizer for social justice and educational advocacy, disability rights, equality and inclusions for African American and Latino communities of Greater Los Angeles.

In addition to managing multiple outreach, volunteer, and advocacy campaigns, Lisette’s 20 years of administrative experience have included fundraising, engagement, events, and sponsorship procurement. She has served on several local and school district leadership committees, facilitates parent groups, conducts workshops, and is often invited to speak at conferences. She is currently a member of the advisory board for UCLA’s Tarjan Center and a member of the Empowerment Congress. She was appointed by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina to the state Council on Developmental Disabilities. She is also a member of the Community Police Advisory Board for the Northeast Los Angeles Police Department. She is also a consultant and board member for several California nonprofits. She works as a senior coordinator in field operations and development for a national nonprofit organization and is responsible for serving Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County.

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