Premier High Schools (PHS) were founded to give students hope through an educational option when the traditional option is interrupted for one reason or another. At Premier High School, students receive the support they need to get a fresh start in pursuit of their educational and career goals. Premier High School – Brownsville Campus Director Mari Alvarado, credits the school for an 18-year career and motivating her to pursue her education and career aspirations.
In 2002, Mari Alvarado was in her late twenties working two jobs to support her growing family. This was not what Alvarado had envisioned for her future, but plans changed when her husband was left permanently disabled from a workplace accident. She suddenly found herself in the role of the primary wage earner and was working part-time at a hardware store when a conversation with a customer changed her life.
“As I was helping him I asked him about his project,” she said. “He explained that he was the director at a local charter school and that they were moving to a new location. Later he told me they were looking for an aide to support the teachers and after some consideration, I decided to apply and got the job.”
Alvarado thought her life experience could serve as motivation for students and help them to more actively pursue their goals. She didn’t realize at the time how the tables would turn and she would find motivation in the experiences of her students. When she started as an aide in the fall of 2002 the work proved to be a challenge but one that she fully embraced. Alvarado took on new roles in support of special education and English language learners led to a promotion managing the front office. That’s when Alvarado realized the path she was on would be even more rewarding than she had hoped for.
“With each new role, I was gaining valuable experience and it gave me the confidence to follow the advice I gave our students,” Alvarado explained. “Each step was a step in the right direction and working in education provided the motivation I needed to pursue my college and career goals.”
Over the next few years, Ms. Alvarado’s life mirrored that of the students she supported each day. Alvarado juggled work, school, and family obligations to pursue and earn a bachelor’s degree. With momentum on her side, she immediately enrolled in graduate school and earned her Master’s in Education with a concentration of an Educational Diagnostician. Soon after graduation, Premier High School leadership recognized her dedication and named her campus director. Alvarado has successfully led Premier High School – Brownsville for the last eight years, which is quite an accomplishment for someone who was the first in her family to attend college. She is proud to explain she won’t be the last.
“In my family, no one thought about college or anything after high school,” she said. “Some of my siblings enrolled in college after me and my children, nieces and nephews are pursuing two-year and four-year college, nursing school or just getting accredited in a field of interest. I feel like working at PHS has opened the doors to education and career for many students but also for me and my extended family. College isn’t the right fit for everyone but it’s important to always pursue your goals.”
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