Sara Scoma, Special Education Teacher
“I have been a special education teacher for 9 years. During that time, I have come into contact with many students who struggle with challenges in life. Specifically, many of these students deal with overwhelming family issues, many types of abuse, gang involvement and drug and alcohol related issues. The one commonality that the students all seem share is that they lack coping skills. Often times these students make bad choices which lead to poor grades, discipline issues, suspensions and at times, expulsions. I have seen many intervention programs offered at the high school level. The reality is that many of the students who participate in these programs, still lack many skills necessary to function properly and deal with the emotions associated with disappointment. Project Aware is the one program that I have seen that truly works for these students; the program is changing lives! I am fortunate enough to sit in the program on a weekly basis and witness that magic that occurs. These students, who are all selected to participate in this program, openly and willingly talk about the pain that they've endured in their lives. They divulge extremely sensitive information about themselves and their families. Their reasons for sharing include one main focus; they all want to become better individuals. The beauty of Project Aware is that it gives students tools and coping strategies that allow them to go forward in life and make better choices. I am hopeful that the district will continue to allow Project Aware on our campus. The impact of the program can be felt throughout the school. Teachers are reporting better behavior from the students who have been able to attend the program. AP’s are seeing a decrease in discipline issues from the students who have participated in the program. The most important part of all is that the students who participate in Project Aware demonstrate a level of confidence about themselves that they never had before. These students know that they have changed, and they now walk with a sense of pride because they feel better about who they are and the choices they make.”
Tammy Parker, School Psychologist, Rancho Buena Vista High School
“I am the school psychologist at Rancho Buena Vista High School. I was eager to write this testimony to help lift the profile and make people aware of the impact Project AWARE is having on the students at RBV. This is my fifth year working at RBV, and I regularly refer students to many different types of intervention programs and/or outside agencies for counseling, drug abuse, behavior problems, attendance problems, etc. I also wrote a grant to bring more counseling services to RBV last year. In my dealings with all of these different programs, I have never seen such significant and rapid results as what I am observing with the Project AWARE intervention program. Some of our most behaviorally involved and at-risk students are participating in the program, and the improvement in their behavior, grades, and attendance is really amazing. Some have not even participated in the full 8 week program and they are already showing significant growth. Even students with significant truancy problems will make sure they are here on time on Friday morning to participate in Project AWARE. Students are regularly telling me about the positive impact this has had on their lives. Their parents are reporting improvement in behavior at home as well. I have even received positive feedback from a Probation Officer regarding a student who is very active in the Project AWARE program. I do not know how much feedback those reading this get about programs at the school sites. There are so many different resources, but this one really stands out. I thought it important to recognize the significance this program is making at RBV, and I want to recognize Shannon Garcia for bringing this to our school. I truly believe students throughout the district would greatly benefit from this program, and I am sure Vista High School could use a resource like this. I know at RBV, many of our resources come from grants we have written, IEP services, and/or EPSDT services. Project AWARE is grant funded. Once the grant is gone, the program is gone too. I hope the district considers keeping this program and implementing it in other schools; I know Shannon is pursuing this with a passion. Like I stated earlier, it has made such a large impact and very quickly with all of the students who are participating. I am sold on it!”
Barbara Benavidez, Special Education Dept. Chair
“During my 36 years in the teaching profession, I have seen and experienced many, many different intervention programs. While some of these programs may have had a slight impact on students, most often, these programs were a waste of time and attended only as a requirement to lessen a consequence or as a mandated sentence. Students were never eager to attend, often skipping sessions with a myriad of excuses. Then came Project Aware! The impact of this program has been like no other. Students are begging to get into the program because they have heard so many wonderful things about it. When one student was told they couldn’t attend a Saturday Project Aware sponsored event, the student and parent were in the AP’s office insisting their student be allowed to attend while the student sat sobbing in the office. The students love Project Aware and are eager to put into effect the tools they learn from this program. Reggie, the facilitator of Project Aware, connects to the students and makes the learning and experiences relevant. There has been a huge change in the students I work with who have attended this program. We are truly blessed to have had the opportunity to have this program on the RBV campus and for the leadership and grant writing skills of Shannon Garcia. This program has been off the charts successful. I see proof of the success on a daily basis with the students who have been fortunate to attend.”
Ms. Shannon Garcia
"Project AWARE is the most powerful intervention
program I have ever seen on a high school campus. Results are immediate, impactful, and profound."
Ms. Shannon Garcia- Assistant Principal Rancho Buena Vista High School
"This man is not just running groups, he is changing lives. He is offering our students a second chance, the opportunity of change and an education. Words cannot describe the appreciation felt by all who know Mr. Washington and his work with young citizens."
Janet Covacevich- Assistant Principal Rancho Minerva Middle School
"Mr. Washington is able to reach these students on a level that assists them in developing positive decision-making skills, build self-esteem and self-respect while accepting responsibility for their actions."
Debbie Adams-Site Supervisor Cal-Safe Program Ocean Shores High School
Kenneth C. Hurst
"Mr. Washington is successfully influencing "Mr. Washington i sable to reach these students on a level that assist our students and our climate and culture on the Oceanside High School Campus."
Kenneth C. Hurst Sr. Ed.D-Principal Oceanside High School
"The benefit of Mr. Washington and his program is the valuable life skills and coping mechanisms he teaches to our students... It is without hesitation that I recommend the Project AWARE program to anyone who has the opportunity and inclination to reap the benefits of this program."
Barbara Perez- Principal of Ocean Shores High School
San Diego Voice
"The [Probation Youth] workshop that kept participants most engaged was Project AWARE's emotional literacy skills workshop. Founder Reginald Washington connected with the youth because of his past growing up in Skyline."
San Diego Voice and Viewpoint August, 2013