When Israel was four years old he came to New Brunswick with his mother from Mexico while his father stayed behind in Mexico to run an auto shop that he owned. When he was in second grade, Israel started attending Community After School Tutoring (CAST) provided by Youth Empowerment Services. Early in third grade he excelled in math but unfortunately had no interest in reading. Our tutors assisted him with math but felt frustrated by Israel’s refusal to complete reading assignments for school or the mandatory reading and journaling time that is part of our CAST program. Instead of working on his reading, Israel would pull out magazines about cars that he obtained from barber shops or the library. His greatest interest was in looking at pictures of cars and dreaming of a day when he could go back to Mexico and work in his father’s auto shop.
One day a tutor got so discouraged with Israel’s lack of interest in reading that she came to me and asked if I would speak with him. I spoke with Israel and told him how sad I was that he had such a fascination with cars and that he would never be able to drive one. I explained that in order to get a driver's license, he needed to take a written test. Even if he drove illegally without a license he would not know where he was going because he would not be able to read the signs. Once Israel saw how important reading was to achieving his dreams of being around cars, he became motivated to learn how to read. By the end of that school year, Israel was confidently reading short chapter books.
As Israel progressed through the next few years he still struggled with feeling invested in his school work. We felt that he would be better served by going to a vocational technical school. He liked the idea and his mother agreed. The process got started and soon Israel was enrolled for high school. His life truly changed when he got to do what he enjoyed at school and pursue his dreams. By his senior year he was doing so well in the program that he became a teacher's aid.
Israel was awarded a full ride scholarship to a professional technical school (college) in Cleveland last year. As he further develops his technical skills he is also now learning the business development part of becoming an entrepreneur. He has really come a long way in 12 years. Israel’s goal is to start his own business as a mechanic and bring his father to the United States to be able to work with him.