Tania Magaña & Michele Drieling
For Tania Magaña, our Intervention Teacher, there is no typical day. Asked to describe her job, she said, “Every day I am busy working hard to provide school-wide support to teachers in all grade levels and identifying students who need additional academic or behavior support. I work with staff on collaborative systems to support sharing of MTSS best practices. I work with students concerning classroom procedures and behavior and to maintain safe and orderly classroom environments throughout our school. I meet and instruct identified students at the designated times, teach them to work collaboratively to solve problems, and to think logically and creatively. I build relationships with parents and students through regular communication. I facilitate the Student Support Team (SST) process with the principal, support staff, parents, and instructional staff. Last but not least, I participate in professional growth and development.”
Tania is passionate about her job. “What I like about my job is it challenges me because I am constantly looking for possibilities and solutions for disruptive students and how to best support our teachers. Students’ behavior gives us clues in trying to understand the problem and how to solve it. I regularly look for clues based on what a student is saying, asking, or needing. It is an endless challenge trying to figure out how to build students who on the surface appear not to care and are in a constant state of negative behavior.”
This is Tania’s second year at Los Alisos and her past experience has prepared her well for this intense job. “After working at the Juvenile Hall/ Community School it was clear the real work is in creating programs that disrupt the "School to Prison Pipeline." There is a link between dropping out of high school and going to prison.” She quotes, “Over half of black young men who attend urban high schools do not earn a diploma. Of the dropouts, nearly 60 percent will go to prison at some point. There are also some eerily similar statistics for young Latino men.” (ED Week. Org, 2015). These are the stats that drive her every day.
Tania connects with difficult students, “I relate to the students, especially those who are immigrants and have frequent flyer miles to the office. Growing up I was identified as an ELL student and was suspended more than my share. Fortunately, one of my teachers, “Coach Vance,” saw the potential and provided the right environment. She was tough and expected a lot of me, but I knew she cared. I was one of those students who did not think about going to college and here I am with two Master's. It shows the power an educator has and how our profession can deviate a student on a path like mine.” Tania Magaña, no doubt our challenging students at Los Alisos will someday regard you as their Coach Vance, for believing in them and changing the course of their lives.
Michele Drieling has been at Los Alisos since 2009. She loves all sports and working outdoors, so for many years she was happy as a PE coach. She explains how her role as mentor to children evolved over the years and led to her present position as Intervention Counselor, “As a coach, I loved connecting with my students on a personal level.” Her friendly, approachable attitude frequently invited struggling students to open up and confide in her. More and more she found she was a natural in the role of counselor. She furthered her education to get the necessary credentials and soon began to practice counseling on a professional level at the NLMUSD Adult School, counseling during evening classes. “Many of these classes consist of high school students who are trying to make up classes they failed, so they can graduate with their peers. The students struggle academically and with study skills, so they end up in my office, needing encouragement.”
After developing her skills for a few years, working two jobs, the district created the position of Intervention Counselor. Michele was a shoe-in for the position at Los Alisos because of her experience and her familiarity with the school.
The challenges of her first year helped her define her position as she had to experiment with different strategies. She also had to deal with the large population at LAMS. However, this year she feels a lot more confident and has had measurable success. Throughout the day, Michele meets with students, individually and in groups, to discuss grades, attendance, and behavior. She intervenes and resolves issues students are experiencing with their peers and/or teachers. She is frequently called on to lead civic circles and is a big believer in Restorative Justice practices. She is in charge of the attendance SART/SARB’s. “The best thing about my job is working with kids to motivate them to believe in themselves and to do their best. My favorite part of the week is leading a ‘Social Group’ of boys on Fridays. With the help of Mr. Vernon and Mr. Loson, we put together a group of unique individuals, who are working on social skills as part of their IEPs. These boys are so much fun to work with and are always so positive. They love to play games and are always pumping each other up to do their best.” Los Alisos thanks you, Ms. Drieling, for showing us what Positive looks like.