How This Student Jumped Math Levels

Nearly four years ago, when Keiry Valle began attending Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy, she was struggling academically. During her freshman year, Valle needed supplemental math support and English language-learner courses. Now in her senior year, she’s top of her class, applying to top tier universities, and is set to become the first person in her family to attend college.

How can a student progress this much? Through robust supports, rich opportunities, and strong determination.

Success As The Only Solution

Born and raised in El Salvador, Valle attended local schools through 8th grade. Then she moved to the United States where her father enrolled her into Locke College Preparatory Academy. As an English language learner, Valle was supported by Green Dot’s English Language Development (ELD) program. This program provides instruction designed specifically for English language learners to develop their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in English.

At Locke, Valle received 1-on-1 support and received extended opportunities during the school day to explore and practice language skills every day. Based on the results of her math diagnostic test, she was enrolled into an algebra 1 math support class.

Before high school, Valle was not confident in her math skills. “I was really bad at math,” Valle said. “I didn't like it at all. It made me think that I was like I was not smart.” But that changed when she took advantage of the academic resources at Locke.

In our foundational courses, students use READ 180 and i-Ready, two blended learning intervention programs, to track their progress throughout the school year. Through consistent academic support, assessment, and exposure to foundational and challenging material, we have seen students gain the confidence and skills necessary for post-secondary success.The small class sizes and blending learning model allow our teachers to share and review students’ data with them in real time, helping students reflect on their progress, recognize their growth and ultimately take ownership of their learning.

“When I came to the United States, I studied,” Valle said. “And I started to enjoy when I solved problems when they were difficult.” Shortly after being placed in math support, Valle zipped through problem sets, quizzes, and tests. In the second semester of her freshman year, her counselor placed Valle in geometry where she was captivated by the properties of space and figures.

“And then, when they saw that this class was not the right level for me, they put me in algebra 2. And I was just there for a semester, and then they put me in precalculus,” Valle said. Now in her senior year, Valle is enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus.

Valle’s academic counselor, Lydia Fernandez, has been impressed with Valle’s progressive capabilities. “There is something really special about Keiry,” Fernandez said. “She advanced so quickly. When you see her work, you’re blown away.”

Fernandez described Valle as a math perfectionist who will stop at nothing short of solving equations. ”I think she’s a genius, but we definitely nurture her. We want to make sure that she is being uplifted,” Fernandez said. “She wants to create a better life for her family here. She has a goal, she has a vision, and she’s making that a reality,” she added.

Valle currently holds a 4.0 GPA.

Crossing the Senior Bridge to College

This past summer, Valle attended Green Dot’s Senior Bridge Summer course, an intensive four-week summer enrichment course that guides students through the college application process. Students practice writing personal insight questions (PIQs) for UC admission, create college match lists, and build the confidence they need to apply to the schools of their choice.

Fernandez, who has taught several senior bridge classes over the past three years, said this program gives students a jumpstart on their college applications. Senior Bridge participants finish a large portion of their applications, connect with scholarship opportunities, understand college application guidelines, and have exposure to college through a series of guest speakers.

“We have amazing student students like Keiry who benefit from this opportunity,” Fernandez said. “Locke has this amazing program with such passionate educators that will do anything and everything they can to nurture these students.”

Valle plans to major in Aerospace Engineering. So far, she has applied to UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Merced, Stanford and CalTech. Valle is also receiving guidance from her mentor at College Match.

“I really want to become an astronaut and work for NASA or SpaceX,” Valle said. “It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.”

Since our founding 20 years ago, Green Dot has remained committed to providing students with a high quality education, equitable educational opportunities and access to college. We remain steadfast in our commitment to transforming public education so all students have the skills to be successful in college, leadership, and life.