Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we feature another member of the Communities In Schools site team at Hillside Middle School, Terra Mosqueda. Embarking on her second year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA with CIS, her work spans between Loy Norrix High School (three days a week) and Hillside (two days a week).
Terra grew up in Rockford, Michigan and it was college that brought her to Kalamazoo. She started at Western Michigan University studying Child and Family Development and then decided to change her focus. After taking some classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community College she decided to take a year off and try something else other than school.
“Being a VISTA has made me lean more towards social work,” Terra says. “School has always been my biggest obstacle. I didn’t try very hard in high school. And I want to work to make sure kids don’t go down my same path. Honestly, I never thought I’d be in a school again! But I really enjoy the relationships I’m making, especially with the students. Being a VISTA gives me opportunities to try new things. I get to talk to people I’ve never thought I’d have a chance to talk with by being in the schools.”
Like her other colleagues who are VISTAs with Communities In Schools, Terra helps nourish a college-going culture. To this end, she has planned college trips for Loy Norrix students and at Hillside she’s created a “college window” that she changes every few weeks.
She orders food from CIS partner Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes to keep the food pantry stocked. She makes sure CIS Kids’ Closet is organized and filled with essentials, like clothing, hygiene, and school supplies.
Terra works with her CIS site teams to assure a smooth delivery of dental services offered to students through the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services and their “Smiles to Go” van. She also supports the CIS After School program. “I’ve gotten really close to the kids. They’ve really grown on me.”
What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
It’s not so much something I’ve learned as something that I’ve opened up to. and that is that no two kids have the same learning style. If two kids are sitting next to each other and I show one how to do a math problem, that same approach may not work for the other student. I have to bend my mind and think of other ways to help that child. At the same time, this helps me in that I expand and come up with new ways of thinking.
What are you currently reading?
With a Pistol in his Hand by Americo Paredes. It is about Gregorio Cortez, a Mexican outlaw still known to this day. When Gregorio eventually dies, he does so in my great-grandfathers house; it’s mentioned in one of the chapters. It’s a really interesting read, and I get to learn a little more about what my great grandfather experienced in his life with his compadre, Gregorio Cortez.
What’s your favorite word right now?
Go. I always say “Go” to the kids as a way to encourage them to be in the right classroom, do their homework, and such. “Go” is both encouraging and demanding. It’s the best of both worlds!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I’m really leaning towards social work. It’s so important to keep kids in good environments. I want to help them graduate with the Kalamazoo Promise and do what they want to accomplish in life.
Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?
My mom and dad, equally. My mom was the caring one and my dad helped me by pushing me. They had the good cop-bad cop thing going on and it worked well on me.
Thank you, Terra!
Are you or someone you know interested in becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA? The next group of AmeriCorps VISTA members will come on board in August. To find out more, go here.
In the weeks to come, we’ll introduce you to Fred Myles and Precious Miller, two more CIS team members from Hillside. In the meantime, if you missed the post about Principal McKissack, you can read it by clicking here. You can read about Katherine Williamson, Hillside’s CIS After School Coordinator, by going here. To learn about Nicholas Keen, Youth Development Worker at Hillside, go here.
Tags: AmeriCorps VISTA, building capacity in schools through VISTA support, CIS, college going culture, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Hillside Middle School, Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services, Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes, Loy Norrix High School, Terra Mosqueda, Western Michigan University