Empowering a Compton teen through tech—even during a pandemic

By: Kenrya Rankin, Molly Savard

An engaged mentor helps student shape his future through tech

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Arthur says his mentor Mr. Gonzalez is “a teacher, a mentor and a friend.”

This spring, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed schools across the country to move from traditional classroom settings to virtual ones. Schools in the Verizon Innovative Learning program benefited from robust tech tools during this extraordinary time, but we know that it takes committed teachers and mentors to help students take full advantage of the opportunities the initiative provides. Lucky for Arthur Camarillo, a student at Dr. Ralph Bunche Middle School in Compton, California, he has both with his mentor, learning specialist Jose Gonzalez.

Before the pandemic, we had a chance to visit Bunche and talk to Arthur and Jose about how Verizon Innovative Learning brought them together. Arthur’s energy was contagious—we followed him from Robotics Club, where he used his device to map out his latest competition project, to the football field, where we were treated to an impromptu dance session with his classmates. Along the way, we learned how Jose employed interdisciplinary projects—fusing STEM, the arts and social good—to prepare and inspire his students to use tech and their imaginations to change the world.

“Mr. Gonzalez is a teacher, a mentor and a friend. He's done so much for me and helped me figure out what I want to do with my life,” Arthur said. “I want to get into filmmaking, acting and singing. Instead of just trying to choose which one I want to do, I want to mix it all together using technology and art and creating it into one.”

We dropped in on Arthur during distance learning and discovered that he’s using his time at home to do just that. “There are so many things that I’m really excited about. I’ve been trying to learn more about music production and I’m learning to create little music videos,” said Arthur, who will soon start ninth grade at Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts. “Being able to use technology, I can expand what I’m able to make and have even more people be able to see it. It just makes me really, really happy.”

Watch and learn Arthur leverages technology to get excited about his future even during a pandemic, why Jose calls him a genius—and how Verizon Innovative Learning supports his growth.

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