come every month. She is training them to help her
bring in new families.
Rendón also runs a Community Café, a one-hour
monthly gathering on a weekday morning to get
parents, mainly fathers, more involved in the school
community. “Last year the conversations focused on
the climate in the nation and racism and about how
we can support our students more,” she said.
Based on models in California, Boston and
Springfield, she also has established a Parent-Teacher
Home Visit program. About 20 teachers volunteered
to take part in a two-day training in August. They
have begun visiting students’ homes this fall.
Electrical technology teacher Victor Vaitkunas
explained why he is participating.
“I had such great teachers through the years,
from elementary school on through high school,” he
said. “I wanted to pass that on and make a difference
in kids’ lives.”
On Oct. 19, Vaitkunas and Rendón met at the
home of junior Michael DeGloria, where they were
greeted warmly by DeGloria’s mother, Johana
Rodríguez. Rodríguez immigrated to the U.S. from
Honduras when she was young, while DeGloria
was born here. He was selected for the home visit
program because he had found a program that he
loved and a skill that he excelled at, and the staff
wanted to keep him heading in a positive direction.
V aitkunas said that his short-term goal is for Michael to continue to do well in both his written and vocational assignments.
“For the long-term goals,” Vaitkunas said to
DeGloria, “when you graduate from high school, you
will have to choose whether to go to college, work in
Asked about his own goals, DeGloria told his
teacher that he really wants to be an electrician.
“I don’t like sitting still in class,” he said. “I like
hands-on projects. I like walking around in
electrical class and looking at what I did and
saying, ‘Did I just do that?’ I want more challenging
projects to work on so I can learn it all.”
Vaitkunas said that if DeGloria keeps up the good
work, he’ll be one of two students recommended
by Waltham High School for a five-year union
apprenticeship program. He said that starting pay for
an apprentice averages about $19 an hour; pay for a
licensed electrician can be about $50 an hour.
Rodríguez was asked about her goals for her
Clearly emotional, she told Vaitkunas, “Most
of all, I want him to be happy and to love what he
is doing. I thank you for your commitment to my
kid. I want to send a message to all teachers that
everyone needs at least one person who believes in
him to make it in this world. I thank God you were
put in his path. You have made a big difference in
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