Solution Seeker Spotlight: Teresa Moran, FYR Center & Envision Career Academy
Each month we feature staff members dedicated to being Solution Seekers in their schools.
Teresa Moran, student navigator at the Family and Youth Resource Center and Envision Career Academy, believes in meeting needs without judgment. With creativity and care, she helps students and families overcome challenges to empower them to focus on a brighter future.
Tell us about yourself
I am the Family and Youth Resource Center and Envision Career Academy student navigator and have worked for NTPS since September 2022.
I began working with the community when I joined AmeriCorps as a volunteer seeking scholarships to further my education. Soon after, I became employed by the Second Harvest Food Bank in Santa Cruz County, California, where I started a program called Passion for Produce. It would break my heart to see families going through boxes searching for food but ending up with only junk food. In my program, I ran a farmer's market where I taught nutritional classes for families that were unhoused or low-income at over 30 locations. Families would receive free, fresh produce each week, along with recipes for how to prepare it. I wanted to teach them that they could still eat in a healthy way, even though they were receiving food stamps or food from the food bank.
What do you like best about your job?
My job as a student navigator is amazing. I'm here to support and help students overcome any barriers that hinder them from focusing on their education to allow them to have a greater focus, get better grades, and graduate.
As students see that I am here to help them, they share their past and present challenges. They understand that I am not going to judge them but rather help them. I try to help them realize that their difficult childhood experiences were not their fault, and how they lived was not because of anything they did. I tell students that they can't change their past, but they can take control of their education; emphasizing that if they work hard, they will get good grades, can go to college, and create a better future for themselves.
Why is being a solution seeker important to you?
This role is very important as our students begin to see that they are not alone and that there is someone who cares and can help them navigate challenging situations. I enjoy listening to them and helping guide them as they make small changes to improve their lives. Once you start believing in them, they begin to believe in themselves as well.
Can you share a story where you experienced problem-solving in action?
When I began working at Envision, I was given a list of the students I would be working with. The first student on that list had moved to another city, but I felt the need to follow up with her to see if she was planning to return. She told me she could not come back as she was done with school. When I checked her records, I found out she was a senior. So I began to work with her over the phone and found a high school for her to attend. In the end, the student decided to enroll for her senior year, and she will graduate this year.
Another story involves a student who was behind in credits because of chronic absences. I told the student, "Let's focus on you passing your classes, and we will figure out what else you can do." He is now attending class every day and participating in the APEX program. Our students need someone to believe in them and not give up on them.
Another aspect of my job is the kid's closet. I love this job because I can help families get what they need without feeling ashamed. Asking for help, especially for the first time, is never easy. I remember one occasion when a father came in to get clothes for his son after losing his job. When he walked into the kid's closet, he started crying. I encouraged him that, after these hard times, he was going to be okay. I walked him through the kid's closet, explained how it worked, and shared about our amazing community that just wants to help. He told me how he was used to caring for others and that it was hard for him to receive help now. I made him laugh as I told him it was time to shop and that I would be his cashier as a joke. He left very grateful and happy to know that there was a place where he could come and get help without being judged.