August 31, 2016

Scholar Voices: A guiding light for Boston’s students

Our Scholar Voices series continues with a post from our Earl Woods Scholarship Program’s first Boston scholar and alum Vladimir Casseus. With his newly minted Master’s degree from the school psychology program at Tufts University, Casseus reflects on the role education played in his life and how his successes were bolstered by an extensive support system made up of family members, educators, mentors and the Tiger Woods Foundation. As he embarks on his new journey as a school psychologist within Boston Public Schools, he highlights the necessity for every child to have a team guiding them through the education process and the ups and downs of life. 

During these past few years as a school psychology graduate student, I have had numerous opportunities to reflect on my own schooling experiences. All of the reading assignments, papers and projects I completed served to broaden my perspective around what factors are most crucial in promoting the development of children and their success in school. Since my first day of school at Haley Elementary School and up until this very moment as a graduate of the Tufts University school psychology program, education has always been a priority. 

My parents instilled in me early on that the key to success was receiving a good education. Every day before school, my parents would encourage me to do my best, respect myself and respect others. Their expectation of me was to give my best effort with every task that I was assigned. In addition, they expected me to bring home grades that only consisted of A’s and B’s. As a young child and teenager, I always felt as though my parents were pushing me too hard and were expecting too much. However, as I got older and went on to college, I began to understand why my parents did what they did. Their support and teachings helped me develop the motivation and determination that I would need to face any challenges that came my way. In addition to my parents, I benefited from similar types of support from teachers, friends, mentors, church members and coaches. They all played a part in helping me attain the skills needed to be academically, socially and emotionally successful.

Being surrounded by people that cared about me and held me accountable for my actions contributed to my overall development and success in school. I never felt like I was ever alone in any situation or endeavor I encountered. I was reassured by knowing that even when I made mistakes, there was going to be someone there to pick me up or let me know what I could have done differently to experience more positive outcomes in the future. My schooling experience as a child added meaning to the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Though my parents played a major role in my overall success in school, there were other individuals that influenced my development through my experiences outside of the classroom or in the athletic arena. Each individual served to form a support system that would energize me when I was feeling down and refocused me when I lost my way. 

Working in a high school this past year has made me realize that not every student is fortunate enough to have a support system that is made up of so many different individuals. Schools are now given the difficult task of compensating for this and need to develop different systems of support to provide students with the opportunity to develop their strengths and interests. I believe that if each student feels as though they have a team of individuals behind them to support them through their schooling experience, they will be more likely to experience positive outcomes. 

My belief that every child needs a support system or a network of individuals guiding them through life is one that I held before entering the field of school psychology. I never took for granted how fortunate I was to be connected to so many different people and resources during my years of schooling and childhood development. As a result, it has become my personal goal to serve as a resource and positive influence for any student I come across as I begin my career as a school psychologist within the Boston Public Schools. 

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.