Today, David Hiraldo, an educator from New York City explains the need to further differentiate educational programs for some of our most at risk students — and what he decided to do about it personally — in response to our question: “What did you do in school today?”
This series of blog posts includes contributions from educators from all over the world, of all content areas, in all grade levels, and in various teaching assignments so that together, we will have a better understanding of what is happening TODAY IN SCHOOL. For more information about this series or to write your own response to the question, please visit this page.
Today in school, we are worried about those students who are struggling in high school, and those who are doing “ok” too, those students who are identified as “At Risk Students.” They’re labeled at risk because they may not complete or finish high school in four or six years. We are worried about students who have dropped out, not in school anymore and those who are not doing anything productive for themselves or their communities. We are worried about the juveniles who are released from prison and do not have a fundamental education or skills that may help them to become productive in their communities and this country. We are worried about those students who may not go to college because their parents can not afford to send them, those students who must work to support their family.
There are too many factors that may explain why these students are not excelling in a traditional school setting. Some people may say that the main cause is that these students are coming from dysfunctional families, that there is a language barrier, the state test is too hard, or there are cognitive issues. Whatever the cause, the question that we have to ask is what options are available for those students at risk to become successful in our society? When we see youths committing crimes, getting into gangs, living a life without hope or inspiration, we do not say that these youths failed. We say that we as community failed for not offering enough support for them to obtain decent skills or trade that may help them to do better.
I decided to start Renaissance Technical Institute (RTI) when I saw my former students being arrested for stupid crimes in their own neighborhood, seeing how, in many occasions, some of my former students were breaking into cars and robbing people in our own community. But the most influential factor was when I learned that the US has to hire people from other countries to do the work that Americans can not do. We are talking about jobs that, in the 1920’s, helped to build this country, jobs that offer higher salaries than many professional jobs. For example, an IT person can make $100,000 a year, a plumber can make $68,000 a year, a HVAC person can make $75,000 a year. And the necessary training for these technical careers can be completed in about a year.
RTI will help these students by offering free vocational trade education in an area that students want to study. We will offer the skills that students need in order for them to be successful and productive to their communities. We will bring to our students the opportunity and the chance that they have been waiting for, for many years. Our classes are differentiated and designed to teach what students need and want to learn in the vocational field they’ve selected. We will support, teach, and find job opportunities for our students.
Our first sessions will be starting soon. We encourage people to get involved by suggesting ideas about technical careers that are in high demand right now and by volunteering to teach technical career classes where they hold a certificate. We are also looking for recruiters to go to different high schools and promote the school, to distribute fliers, and get the word out to students who would like to attend RTI. Please visit our website, Facebook, or Twitter account (@RenaissanceTI) to get more information about our programs.
David Hiraldo is an entrepreneurial-minded leader and dedicated professional with over 7 years of teaching experience. Mr. Hiraldo holds dual Master’s Degrees in Administration & Supervision and Special Education in Cross Categories from University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Design & Multimedia from City College of New York. His New York Certifications include: School Building Leader, Students With Disabilities (Grades 1-6), Students With Disabilities (Birth-Grade 2), and Childhood Education (Grades 1-6).
David is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Italian. He is also well-versed in key educational approaches and programs, such as: Wilson Foundations, Wilson Reading System, I-Ready, DRA2, Fountas & Pinnel, Math in Focus, and Story of Unit Math. Currently, Mr. Hiraldo is a Special Education Learning Specialist and Site Supervisor for the Special Education and English Language Learner programs for Promise Academy, an I Lower Elementary charter School in New York City, where he has worked since 2008.