How School Culture Helped This Student Academically


This piece is part of Faces of Growth, a series of profiles that underscore the importance of looking at student performance and school effectiveness through the lens of growth, and not just absolute achievement. This series provides an opportunity to celebrate our students’ hard work and our educators’ tireless dedication.

Meet Pedro Barreras, a senior at Ánimo Pat Brown Charter High School (APB). In eighth grade at a nearby middle school Barreras was struggling in both math and English, demonstrating the math proficiency of a fourth grader and the English proficiency of a fifth grader. Just three years later, in his junior year at APB, Barreras showed dramatic growth: he met proficiency in math and scored above grade level in English on the SBAC exam-- he grew seven grade levels in his first three years at APB!

“I believe the reason I grew [so much] is the culture at APB,” recalled Barreras. “Everyone believes in your potential and pushes you to reach it.” Before attending APB, Barreras lacked confidence: “I didn't like to speak or volunteer because I felt like I’d say something wrong and that really held me back.”

APB has served the Florence-Firestone neighborhood and surrounding communities of South Los Angeles since 2006. A tenet of school culture at APB is that healthy, caring connections and relationships with others on campus are vital to the academic, behavioral, and social-emotional success of students. This school culture helped Barreras gain leadership skills and grow in confidence and even became involved in the Drama program, thanks to the support of English teacher Joshua Villagomez.

“I never thought about college before attending APB. It wasn’t even on my radar,” reflected Barreras. “APB immediately exposes you to college through presentations, conversations, and tours. APB puts you on the road to college immediately. College is not an if, but a when.” Next fall, Barreras hopes to attend UCLA or UC Santa Cruz to study biology.

At Green Dot, we are constantly strengthening and refining our academic model in order to close opportunity gaps faced by underserved students while providing a rigorous college college going curriculum. Our aim is to meet all students where they are, and provide the education they need to be prepared for college and beyond.

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