Meet Francisco Pavón Mejía, 9th-grade Coordinator, English teacher, and Acelerado Coordinator (our Accelerated Saturday GED equivalent program) here at Abundant Life Institute!
Francisco joined our team as a new graduate in 2019, and as you can see from his job description, he does a lot around here! An empathetic and passionate teacher, he loves helping equip students of all ages to learn and grow. Our Acelerado program has grown considerably under his care, now at 120 students (including our new Penitentiary program that he has helped develop).
As a large part of the day-in and day-out operations at IVA, and in honor of our upcoming Acelerado graduation ceremony, we wanted to share some of his perspectives and reflections! Enjoy.
What is your favorite thing about your students?
My favorite thing about my students is that many of them come with a desire to learn and improve themselves. Seeing in their eyes the desire to learn is something that continually motivates me to grow and give my best as a teacher.
What do you value most / what is your favorite thing about IVA?
I highly value the effort made by our collaborators and the organization regarding the future of our community and country. In the same way, I like the atmosphere that exists within the institution, it breathes love and the desire to learn and I greatly appreciate the effort that teachers put in every day when interacting and living with our students.
What is a change that could make a big difference at the school?
I think that if there was the possibility of implementing technology in our classrooms, that would make a big difference since the students would learn new things in a more interactive and interesting way. However, I am aware that there are many factors that influence that part. Other things that I think are being done well are the continued expansion of the institution with the construction of new classrooms and the opening of new career paths. In the same way, it would be good in the future to see other modalities such as pre-school and kindergarten or even a university in 20 years.
What makes you feel excited about the future?
I am very excited to see the direction our institution is taking by projecting itself as one of the best in our region. It is something that fills me with pride and excitement as a teacher. I am also moved as I see our graduates advancing and becoming good professionals, and even seeing many of them stepping foot in the doors of universities, I think that is something that excites all of us and fills us with pride.
What is your next big goal?
I have many plans for my future. Despite some bad experiences, I still have the desire to get my master’s degree. I have always said that one as a person never stops learning. I am open to many options, I want to continue learning as much as possible about different things related to education and beyond. Similarly, I want to share my knowledge with others because I believe that knowledge was made to share.
On Acelerado and our new Penitentiary Program
What problems do Acelerado and our Penitentiary Program help solve?
They partially solve the desertion in some cases of students who, for various reasons, had to leave their studies on hold, generally older individuals who still have the desire to get ahead and obtain a mid-level degree. It also helps to integrate people deprived of liberty into society, which is positive for all parties involved.
How does this program serve people?
This program serves people in many ways by providing an avenue for individuals to resume their studies regardless of their age, nutritional support, delivering an education appropriate to their needs and available time, and receiving classes in a healthy environment are all things that in some way or another help serve our future professionals.
Tell us about a student who has benefited from this program. What was their life like before they started?
Moses is a student who started his studies inside the penitentiary. However, after a short time, he received his letter of freedom and decided to continue his studies in our traditional Acelerado program. His story is definitely an example to follow as he is now graduating at the top of our Acelerado class. The dedication that he has put into his studies is evident, and he has proven to be an outstanding and responsible student in every way, an individual worthy of admiration and respect.
What was it like meeting this individual for the first time?
I initially met Moses inside the penitentiary when we began classes there. I can say that it was definitely a new experience for me since I had never been inside a place like that before, I wasn’t sure what to expect or how I should act at first. However, I can say that it has been one of the most natural and productive experiences possible since most of the individuals inside the penitentiary had the desire and the courage to pursue their studies.
What/How does he feel now?
I have seen a huge shift in his life. To this day I can say that he has become a very responsible person and is committed to his reform and future. In fact, he finished with the best grades in the whole program, a clear example of his determination. It is evident that he wants to do things well and strives for it in everything he does. Without a doubt, these are the changes that we hope for and want to see in our students.
What is his outlook on life like now?
He is very different now from when I first met him. It is interesting how a person can make a radical change in their life and appreciate the things and opportunities that come their way all the more because of it. It is something that definitely makes you grow as a human being. Now you can see in him a vision of improvement, wisdom, and love for everything he does. His story is a clear example of why “we should not judge a book by its cover”.