Student Success Stories

Introduction

San Francisco Public Schools prepare students to go far in life. Each and every one of our schools is filled with curious, self-confident students that reflect the rich diversity of our City. From new immigrant homes where English is a second language to 5th generation San Francisco families, our students are proof of what happens when you combine engaged teachers, high-quality academics and opportunities for growth and discovery. We invite you to see how the students profiled here are going onto the next phase of their lives fully prepared and fully engaged.

Read about students from all backgrounds from every corner of the city who found a path to success in San Francisco Public Schools.

We then invite you to explore your neighborhood school, and help your child find their path in life. 

Agnes L., Mission High School

Agnes portrait photo

"The teachers really push you to challenge yourself and teach you skills that are valuable in your lifetime."

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In her time at Mission High, Agnes grew academically and had her worldview expanded by both her teachers and her fellow students.

“The teachers really push you to challenge yourself and teach you skills that are valuable in your lifetime.  It’s the way that they teach and how supportive they are, wanting you to stay after school to learn about a topic that you may not understand or that you may want to learn more about.”

Agnes loves math, and appreciated that her teacher Mr. Lau had office hours and would stay after school to tutor students or give extra credit. “At Mission High School, there’s a level of support that’s unmatched. I think that every teacher is willing to help you.” 

As she heads to Stanford to study computer science, artificial intelligence, and biology, Agnes feels prepared: “Mission exposes you to what the real world is going to look like. When you go for a job or when you go off to college, you’re going to meet so many people from different backgrounds, so being at a diverse school definitely prepares you, so you’re not caught off guard, you’re not in a bubble.”

 

Jazmine G., John O' Connell High School

Jazmine portrait photo

"SFUSD helped me with leadership, empathy and collaboration"

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Jazmine’s interest in art started while growing up in the Mission District: “There's always murals in my neighborhood, something to look at when you're on your walk to school. I really enjoyed seeing that people were able to express their culture through art, and I was inspired to create my own art.”

At John O’Connell, Jazmine’s passion for art connected with preparation for a career. Through the Code Nation program, she learned the basics of how to code in HTML, JavaScript and CSS. And through O’Connell’s career pathways, she was exposed to construction and engineering, and got an architecture internship. 

“Being part of the internship really solidified that I want to pursue architecture or engineering in college.” Now, she’s studying engineering at Stanford.

Jazmine also built her leadership skills through SFUSD’s Arts Collaborative. She led breakout rooms for Districtwide arts meetings, helping teachers understand what students want in their classrooms. “Being a part of the arts strengthened my empathy and collaboration. As a community, students, teachers, and faculty were all able to work together to help improve the arts, one small step at a time.”

 

De'Yani D., Ruth Asawa School of the Arts

De'Yani photo portrait

“I want to be a resource to people. I want to be able to come back and help.”

Learn more about De'Yani

De’Yani has an impressive resume as an artist and community-builder. In fourth grade, she helped co-found the Radical Monarchs, a troop of girls of color who were active in promoting social justice. At School of the Arts (SOTA), she joined the technical theater program, painting scenery and using power tools to build sets. And she was active in SOTA’s Black Student Union, serving as its president in her senior year.

But she’s also faced obstacles. “I have really bad social anxiety. My first two years at SOTA, my grades were passing, but I was struggling. Once I got connected with the counselors and support staff at my school, they taught me how to advocate for myself. My Mom was really adamant about that, too. I learned to communicate when I need extra support. There are classes offered at SOTA where you can go in and do homework with tutors who come in to help you, and get your grades up.”

Now, DeYani’s at Dillard University, a leading HBCU, where she’s studying psychology with the goal of becoming an expressive arts therapist. “I have attended therapy that I felt only re-traumatized me. So I decided to incorporate my artistic side, to help people process things and gain mental wellness through art. I want to be a resource to people, specifically in low income communities and communities of color. I want to be able to come back and help.”

Derrick L., Mission High School

Derrick photo portrait

“Thanks to Black Star Rising, I found my way to college.”

Learn more about Derrick

Derrick grew up in Potrero Hill, and attended San Francisco public schools K-12 – at Harvey Milk and McKinley Elementary Schools, Marina Middle School, and Mission High School. 

In 8th grade, he found out about SFUSD’s Black Star Rising program from Linda Jordan at the African-American Achievement and Leadership Institute, who gave him an extra push to join. Black Star Rising prepares African-American students for STEM careers by providing cohort-based instruction in math, science, and engineering. Derrick remembers the experience as an opportunity to learn new things with his cohort, including friends he grew up with. 

Each summer, Black Star Rising helps prepare African-American students for math and science classes in the school year to come. As Derrick puts it, “It made the classes in school way easier because we already went through it in advance. If you can learn that second time, it’ll be easier.” The program also stays in touch with students throughout high school, checking in with them, engaging their families, and offering tutoring.

At Mission, Derrick took a media arts class that exposed him to the passion he wants to make his career – video editing. He’s now pursuing that dream as a business major at Langston University in Oklahoma.

Carrie L., Galileo High School

Carrie portrait photo

“I think a lot of students who grow up here don’t really notice how amazing it is to get exposed to different cultures.”

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As she graduates from Sonoma State, Carrie reflects on her time in San Francisco public schools:

“I think a lot of students who grow up here don’t really notice how amazing it is to get exposed to different cultures – not just your peers, it’s also your teachers.” 

“I had this teacher Miss Morrison who taught my English class and she made the biggest impact in my writing and reading. She just made that class so engaging; it was so easy to consume the material. Because of that class, I love writing and reading.”

“I also got really close with my AVID teacher Mr. Welch and my counselor Ms. Marshman, who has become a huge role model in my life. AVID is a college prep program that gave me exposure to guest speakers and college tours, and how to apply for student aid. My parents don’t speak English, they only speak Cantonese. Before, I used to be a little embarrassed about being low-income and the first person in my family to go to college. But in AVID, I felt safe, I felt accepted. That was like the biggest impact in my high school career because it set me up for college to be successful.”

“I’ve accepted a job offer at Deloitte as a Controls Compliance, Finance Analyst in San Francisco six months before graduation. That was really surreal not just because it’s my first job, but for me as a first-generation college student. If I did not join AVID and be exposed to resources early on, I would not be able to have these amazing opportunities.”

Rebecca C., Philip and Sala Burton High School

Rebecca portrait photo

“I really grew a lot as a student and as a person because I was challenged to do more than I thought I could.”

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It was her relationships with her teachers that Rebecca says most prepared her for career and life. “I would seek them out because they’re super smart people and I got so much life advice from them. My favorite was Miss Quindlen. She challenged me to reevaluate the way I was thinking. She’d ask, ‘Why do you think that way?’ Or ‘Maybe you can consider this?’ She wasn’t treating me like a child. She was saying, ‘You are a young adult.’”

Rebecca says AP classes at Burton got her college-ready at Seattle Pacific University: “They really developed my love for history and writing and just pushing my brain. I think back on it and realize I grew a lot as a student and as a person because I was challenged to do more than I thought I could. In college you know you’ve often got 6-page papers or 12-page papers. I knew I could always do it.”

She grew in other ways, too: “I wasn’t from the area of the city Burton is in – I’m from the Ingleside neighborhood. I got to be friends and classmates with people that lead very different lives. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and I’m thankful for that, because I got to develop a love for people I had nothing in common with except for the fact that I was the same age and went to the same school. I have definitely carried that with me to college.” 

Charlotte T., Mission High School

Charlotte portrait photo

“SFUSD has helped me a lot. They helped me work towards my goals.”

Learn more about Charlotte

At first, Charlotte wasn’t sure Mission High was right for her. She only knew Lowell and Lincoln, and when she got into Mission, her parents were skeptical. 

That, however, only made Charlotte dig in: “My parents tried to get me to transfer. But I said, I have to go to that school, so I just fully committed to Mission.” She’s glad she did.

“When you go through a day or even a week at the school, you find out what Mission is really about. It's more about community – the community actually cares about Mission students and staff members also really care, whether it be about college or home life, or even job interviews. They do a lot to support and accommodate you.” 

Charlotte loves working with children, and is studying psychology at UC Berkeley. At Mission High, she combined a City College class on childhood behavior with an internship where she worked with three to five year-olds.

“Although the internships and programs I've taken have not all been within SFUSD, I only heard about these opportunities through school. It's like, they shout out all these opportunities and then that's how I got to be the person that I am today, having all of these experiences. So SFUSD has helped me a lot.

This page was last updated on September 12, 2022