Changemakers, Supporting Champions For Learning

Inspired To Give

From Student to Teacher, Meet Kiara 

Through Champions For Learning I’ve been inspired by my mentor, community, and the students I teach. My name is Kiara and I am a Kindergarten teacher at Village Oaks Elementary in Immokalee and a 2012 graduate of the Champions For Learning programs.

My whole life has been about learning. Learning to be a better student, a better community member, and a better teacher. I strive to be the best educator I can be because of those who advocated and believed in me as a student.

Champions For Learning matched me with a mentor who is a former teacher. She taught me that to teach a child you have to see the student as a whole. My mentor invested time and her knowledge and inspired
me to become the educator I am now.

My community through Champions For Learning gave me the tools to succeed as a student. My relationship with Champions For Learning did not end after high school. Champions For Learning continues to support me, now as an educator. In a year where teaching has gone virtual, Champions For Learning has been here to help navigate and provide me with a grant that has been able to help me support my students.

I noticed some of our students do not have the necessary tools to be able to complete their kindergarten work. I thought it would be helpful to provide a small package that not only helps my students academically but also assist in stimulating their brains. The package, funded through my grant, included: a math workbook, playdoh, coloring books, bubbles, puzzles, and watercolor paint sets.

My students inspire me each day. I strive to be an advocate for them the way Champions For Learning was for me. My students give me the confidence to grow as an educator and to build relationships with them that go far beyond the classroom.

I have come full circle with Champions For Learning as a student, as an educator, and as an advocate for learning. I give back to my community because my community believed in me.
— Kiara Gonzalez Duran

Lifting Each Other Up Through Mentoring

Growing up in New York City I didn’t have a mentor or anyone to guide me. I wanted to be an advocate, a mentor for someone. I found that at Champions For Learning. Three years ago I was paired with my mentee Hailey and not only has Hailey inspired me but I have also been able to make a difference in her life.

Being a mentor is more than just giving someone time. It is about watching a student progress and cheering on the student through their successes and being a guide. It is important to me that my mentee knows I am always in
her court through the good, the bad and the ugly.

There is real value in being a mentor because not only are you investing in the student but also in the community. Not only am I a mentor, I am a friend to my mentee and know that our relationship will go beyond four years.
The pandemic has not changed our relationship it has helped us to become even closer through our virtual mentoring sessions. We can spend more time with each other virtually and I am still able to see her progress and growth. I am very proud to be a mentor.

— Yadira Vintimilla, Mentor

The big sister I never had, Yadira Vintimilla.

To everyone she is just my mentor, to me she is so much more than that. When I first entered the Take Stock program, the thought of having to interact with a total stranger was a bit intimidating. Meeting Yadira for the frst time, it was an instant connection. The best connection. My favorite thing about my relationship with Yadira is how open we are; our relationship is genuine.

Yadira is truly an inspiration. She truly makes an effort to always be there for me, from school, relationships, jobs, life, she is always present with a smile.

I strive to be like my mentor. I admire her intelligence; I had never met such an empowered woman.

Having a mentor has been the best thing to happen to me. Not only does she guide me academically and pushes me towards my goal of becoming an orthodontist, she also guides me through life. She encourages me to be
involved in my community, that is why I volunteer through the American Cancer Society. Thanks to our conversations, I have been able to maturely make decisions that benefit me.

My mentor is a blessing to me and I am so lucky to have her in my life.

— Hailey , Mentee



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