SAN JOSE, CA – Last week, when Zayra Dagio-Barajas returned to her school, Opportunity Youth Academy (OYA), she was no longer a student, because she is now a member of the staff. After recently, passing the paraprofessional exam, Zayra has been hired as an instructional assistant to help other students like herself.
"There was a point in my life where I had nearly given up on my chances of successful future but thanks to all the support I received from my mom and my teachers it now seems like reality."
"OYA has changed my life," she added. "I have completed my high school diploma, which is something I never thought I could accomplish a few years ago."
Dagio-Barajas, who received her diploma on June 7, as one of the 48 of graduates from Opportunity Youth Academy, graduated with honors, including being recognized on Wednesday, June 19 by the Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBOE) as the Opportunity Youth Academy student of the year.
"This is a great honor for Zayra," stated Phil Morales, Principal of Opportunity Youth Academy. "Student of the Year is not just reserved for graduating seniors, Zayra was selected from over 380 students at six sites across the county. We selected Zayra because she has demonstrated a constant commitment to success."
"OYA is designed so that students to earn a high school diploma and have support to enter a college and career pathway," stated County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan. "Zayra's achievement is significant. She exemplifies that success is possible and her presence is a reminder to others that they too, can be successful, finish their degree and move forward, whether to teach, like Zayra or to achieve their goals and dreams."
"I am delighted to have a graduate of OYA as a member of our staff. I hope that other graduates will consider a pathway into careers in education," added Dewan.
Opportunity Youth Academy is a unique blended learning program of teacher-directed instruction combined with online credit accrual and recovery options serving disengaged students from age 16 to 24. OYA is a diploma earning program designed to promote college, career, and workforce readiness. OYA is a free program that offers access to support services to help students stay on track and complete the program, including child care, transportation, and basic need. The flexible scheduling, combined with her drive, allowed Zayra to complete her high school education, even with a young daughter.
"Many of the students at Opportunity Youth Academy, face incredible challenges, and their success is extraordinary. They are proof that life can change and change for the better," added Dewan.
As Student of the Year, Zayra is one of four students recognized from Santa Clara County Office of Education programs, other honorees for 2019 include Special Education Student of the Year Jason Ortiz, Alternative Education Student of the Year Julissa Farias, and Alex Vargas the Migrant Education Program Student of the Year. Each student honoree was recognized by the County Board of Education and received an iPad to help with future studies.
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About the Santa Clara County Office of Education
Working collaboratively with school and community partners, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is a regional service agency that provides instructional, business, and technology services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County. The County Office of Education directly serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The SCCOE also provides academic and fiscal oversight and monitoring to districts in addition to the 21 Santa Clara County Board of Education authorized charter schools.