Gates Millennium Scholar Returns to Teach in Hometown

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When it comes to educators, Firebaugh High School Class of 2010 graduate Yvette Reynoso is one of the best. Because she greatly valued the assistance she received from the Lynwood Unified community when she was in school, this Gates Millennium scholar and UCLA graduate were determined to forge a path that would lead her back to the neighborhood where she grew up to inspire others and become a role model.

Reynoso is now entering her second year as a history teacher at Firebaugh High, poised to empower a new generation of Lynwood students to follow their dreams in college and career.

“Yvette Reynoso embodies the true spirit of Lynwood Unified, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and the desire to give back to her community,” LUSD Superintendent Dr. Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “We are so fortunate to have Yvette back at Firebaugh, where she is now helping us create lifelong learners with the 21st century skills necessary to achieve their highest academic and personal aspirations.”

Firebaugh High opened its doors in 2005 and Reynoso was a member of its second graduating class. Many of the extracurricular clubs she was instrumental in creating are still active, including the Chinese Club, where students practice their Mandarin and immerse themselves in Chinese culture.

Reynoso has reunited with Firebaugh history teacher Jose Ochoa, who was the first to inspire Reynoso’s career course.

“Mr. Ochoa is the primary reason I pursued history as a major, and as a teaching subject,” Reynoso said. “He taught from a variety of perspectives that made it click for me. It’s so rewarding to be a member of the faculty with him now.”

Reynoso, who teaches World History and AP U.S. History, is now colleagues with the same Firebaugh faculty and staff who guided her to a 4.5 GPA and kept her focused on the academic excellence and leadership skills required to earn a Gates Scholarship, which is awarded to only 300 undergraduates a year and covers all incidental costs of attending a four-year university. With Lynwood’s open access policies, her AP class is filled with all types of students, varying in ethnicity, economic status and ability. However, students continue to excel as they continue to reach and exceed every bar set for them. She uses her path as an example to her students who have set the same goals for themselves.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in history, Reynoso remained at UCLA to complete a master’s degree in education. Her achievements have made a great impression on her students.

“I want my students to understand that they can achieve anything if they are willing to put forth the effort,” Reynoso said. “It’s made a big difference in my classroom. My students are proud to say they are from Lynwood, and they should be. This is a community that means so much to me, because the spirit of giving is everywhere.”

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That spirit was evident during Reynoso’s days at UCLA, when she first returned to the District as an AVID tutor for Lynwood High. AVID, or Advancement via Individual Determination, a program designed to equip students with the skills they need to succeed academically, is a program that has served as a vehicle for students on the verge of excellence realize their potential. Reynoso came in three days a week to work with a small group of students, assessing their needs, answering questions and ensuring the students were making progress in their studies.

Lynwood schools are better for having alumni come home to serve. They bring something extra to the classroom and every other role they fill. There are dozens of examples of alumni coming home to serve and sticking around for decades. To our current students, they serve as proof of what Lynwood kids can do and our students respect them that much for it. To alumni reading this, there is always a place for you here at home in Lynwood schools.