Ismelda Cruz remembers her favorite memory of summer camp. In the 7th grade, she and her fellow Children’s Aid campers went on an overnight visit to Wagon Road. The campers participated in activities, cooled off in the pool, and even heard a ghost story in the woods where a staff member playfully scared them at the end.
Ismelda is a product of our cradle to college approach here at Children’s Aid. Starting at an early age, she was part of after-school programs and summer camps at P.S. 5 and I.S. 218. She later went from camper to facilitator, writing up lessons and organizing activities, at P.S. 5. After earning her associate’s degree in early childhood education from Hostos Community College, she is now an assistant teacher at P.S. 5.
She says she returned to her roots because of her past experience with Children’s Aid. “I do it for the mission,” she said. “I do it to provide for kids in low-income communities like [Children’s Aid] did when I was young.”
Being a lead facilitator and assistant teacher has showed her why our programs are so important to our young ones. She mentions that at Children’s Aid, kids are safe, are given meals, and, most importantly, have fun. She said that even as a student, she learned social-emotional skills, including communication skills and maintaining friendships, which have helped her later in life.
“I learned to give back to my community because they gave me so much as a child that now I can return the favor,” she said.
In addition to her work in education, Ismelda graduated from Baruch College and earned a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications in May. Ismelda is now interning with Children’s Aid’s Marketing and Communications Department. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree and a career in human resources.
She said she strives to reach her goals and succeed not only for herself, but for all her students as well. “I want to be a role model for kids so they can learn to do better for themselves.”
It’s just one of the many ways Ismelda hopes to make an impact in her students’ lives.