By: Clarisa Ramirez, buildOn Communications Intern[pullquote]Sarah is really well known in her district for taking an idea and making it even better.[/pullquote]
Behind every enthusiastic buildOn youth service program is an active advisor. Advisors are teachers who volunteer to act as buildOn’s connection to each program’s host high school, and to help navigate the school’s bureaucracy when planning activities. The buildOn program at Balboa High School in San Francisco boasts 50 to 60 members, and one of the two advisors in charge of coordinating the healthy-sized team is Sarah Brand, an elective teacher. buildOn coordinator Ashley Shult said the group owes a great deal of its sustainability to the district’s peer support and Sarah’s leadership.
“Sarah is really well known in her district for taking an idea and making it even better,” Ashley said. She’s been working with Sarah for four years and they both went to Mali together in 2008 to build a school. “She was fantastic,” she said. “Not only does she put energy into buildOn but she’s also one of those teachers who carries a lot of energy. She’s been great at assisting communication between buildOn and Balboa High’s principal. She keeps students to their promise and makes buildOn their priority.”
Years worked at buildOn: 5 years.
How did you get involved with buildOn?
I remember hearing about it and thinking, “Oh, that’s so cool.” I’m the Peer Helping teacher and I try to support youth development. It’s an elective that trains the students on social justice and health issues, and they figure out how to make changes in their community based on knowledge of those issues. It was a very natural fit.
What do you bring to buildOn?
I bring the keys to the room. Just kidding! I bring knowledge on how to help youth make interactive workshops. I bring my own love of global issues. I bring a very high standard of what I believe youth can accomplish.
What are some of your favorite memories working with buildOn?
I was able to go to Mali several years ago and it was a really unique experience to just be in a community that really didn’t have much garbage. It was a very small community and they just didn’t have a lot of plastic or a disposable culture like we do in the United States. I think that was very eye-opening that the material objects that are really important to people in the U.S. are different for them.[pullquote]I was able to go to Mali several years ago and it was a really unique experience to just be in a community that really didn’t have much garbage.[/pullquote]
I also really appreciate the moments when we do peer-education… and the youth are leading other youth and making it acceptable. And I also think it’s really exciting when something comes up and the students get really into it. This year one of our community service projects was Cookies for Bookies. If you give a book you’d get a cookie, and we got a lot of books. The books were going to this Oakland organization that was putting on this book fair that families could go to.
Complete this sentence:
buildOn is… giving to ourselves by giving to others.