CalSAC is proud to highlight Christopher Ibarra and Sarah Izquierdo from CalSAC's 2018 Leadership Development Institute 360°/365 fellowship. Christopher and Sarah are leaders who have demonstrated unrivaled commitment to the field and drive for advanced leadership in the out-of-school time and early learning field.
As a young man growing up in East Los Angeles, Christopher Ibarra learned very early on the importance of education, as well as supportive, caring teachers, in students’ lives. From tutoring peers in elementary school to working in his church’s youth group and catechism classes, he developed the love of supporting others, and the understanding of the importance of open-minded, thoughtful support for young learners. In acquiring his B.A. in History from CSU East Bay, Christopher sought to become a high school History teacher. As he was finishing up his degree, he ended finding a different path to aiding youth in their education in school and life: after-school programming.
As a Reading/Math Tutor, Recreation Leader and Comic Book Leader at Laurel Elementary in Oakland, Christopher was charmed by the boundless exuberance, inherent curiousity, and thirst for knowledge of elementary students. He also learned of wonderful youth development skills and concepts, such as having a growth mindset and encouraging youth voice to help direct their learning. He also found that his creativity, dedication to growth, and gregarious nature proved vital assets in creating an intentional yet engaging activities for youth.
After 3 years with Learning For Life at Laurel, Christopher discovered Girls Inc. of Alameda County, which transformed his outlook on after school programming and what can be accomplished there. In 5+ years as a program leader and Site Coordinator, Christopher has utilized the ethos of supporting young women to be “strong, smart and bold” to develop programming that not only grows the literacy ability of our elementary students, but also supports youth to be empathetic, helpful, and compassionate community members. He strives to improve equity of voice and advocates for practices and curriculum that also aids our young men to be allies to young women and understanding of the obstacles they face.
Now a Fellow in Leadership Development Institute through CalSAC, he continues his journey to be an advocate for youth and socio-emotional learning while developing the passion and skills of tomorrow’s youth developers.
Sarah Izquierdo has been working in Poway Unified School District’s Extended Student Services for the past seven years. It began as a side job to get her through college, but she quickly discovered this was where she wanted to be. She is now an ESS Supervisor and loves every wacky, hectic, fun loving minute of it. Sarah will find any reason to get out of her office and meet the kids on the playground, excite and engage them with a STEAM activity, or encourage them through their homework.
Growing up Sarah always knew she wanted to work with kids. Over the years, her goals seemed to endlessly morph; ranging from a high school history teacher, a kindergarten teacher, and even a biology professor. While these goals have ebbed and flowed one thing has remained constant, a passion for impacting children’s lives in a positive way. Sarah has found her niche at Extended Student Services in San Diego’s Poway Unified School District.
Sarah loves before/after school because of the sense of safety, security and growth that is provided for these children. While ESS may not be a typical classroom setting, students are learning priceless life lessons regarding social skills, communication, and establishing trust. This positive environment is so vital, as many of these children will be here from six in the morning all the way until six at night.
Sarah grew up in a small town in North County San Diego, her schools didn’t offer on-site childcare and many children walked home or hung around local parks unsupervised. Being shy, Sarah had a hard time finding her place and struggled amongst her turbulent home life. She found support from teachers and mentors that gave her a sense of empowerment and belonging. Sarah gives back by being that support system that she felt she lacked growing up. ESS is a place where she can connect with students and empower them to persevere, even when life feels overwhelming.
Sarah is currently working hard planning summer for her site. This will be her third year at one of PUSD’s largest ESS sites. For Sarah, summer will be full of field trips to the beach, lost sandals, endless sunscreen, a little yoga, art club, garden club, karaoke club, counting kids on the bus, waiting for the bus, dealing with cuts, scrapes and bee stings, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.
In Sarah’s free time you can expect to find her running with her dog, Sagan, hiking with her husband, Vilas, or teaching/practicing yoga.