Staff Stories

See what our staff have to say about their experiences at Briya

Nury Sandoval

Bilingual Family Literacy PreK Teacher

Why Briya? Because it aligns with my values.

Before I moved to the US from Colombia in 2009, I worked as a teacher in an orphanage. When I came to this country, I knew that I wanted to work with young children, people living in poverty, and with immigrants. I was looking for a place where I could serve children not only with the best of my professional abilities but with my whole self.

I found all of this at Briya. I love the model and I love the population we have here. At Briya, one of our fundamental guiding principles is respect towards the human beings we work with, no matter their racial, ethnic, religious, or cultural differences. I love that staff at Briya are always focused on others. Every day since I’ve started working here, I wake up with my heart full when I think of starting another day helping “my” children and their families.

Briya is more than a place of work. Friends in the same field say, “Briya is different.” Coming to work every day fills me professionally and also spiritually. You can feel there is respect not only for the students but also among coworkers. The environment feels like you’re part of a family. I feel happy to be part of a group of people who are passionate about doing their best for the families we serve.

Leticia Santizo

Maestra de Educación Temprana

¿Por qué Briya? Debido al entorno multicultural de apoyo.

Estudié varias especialidades en Guatemala, pero no había posibilidades de darle a uno trabajo, así que vine a Estados Unidos. Empecé en Texas, cuidando a los hijos de una familia. Cuando llegué a DC, tuve a mi hija. Pedí ser voluntaria en su escuela, y ahí es donde me involucré más en el trabajo con los niños. Mi inspiración siempre ha sido mi hija.

Aproveché la oportunidad de estudiar y obtuve un título de asociado, a pesar del desafío de tomar clases en inglés. Me gusta trabajar con niños, y otras personas me han comendado que tengo una habilidad natural con ellos.

Briya me interesaba porque me enteré de que ayudan a personas de diferentes culturas. Apoyar a las familias inmigrantes es importante para mí porque yo necesité apoyo por un tiempo después de yo llegué aquí de Guatemala, y nadie me ayudó. Muchos de nosotros venimos a este país con miedo. Me gusta motivar a los padres a continuar, y les brindo la seguridad que ellos pueden compartir sus inquietudes conmigo, y que yo los apoyaré.

He tenido experiencia con varios lugares de educación, y Briya es especial. Como compañeros pensamos en diferentes maneras, como es normal para seres humanos, pero tenemos un mismo objetivo y al final llegamos a un acuerdo. Se siente un ambiente familiar, sin división de cultura. Trabajamos juntos, compartimos comida, y celebramos los cumpleaños. Y Briya nos está siempre orientando con entrenamientos para reforzar más nuestros conocimientos. Mi meta es siempre seguir aprendiendo y seguir ayudando a las familias, y me alegra poder hacer esto en Briya.

Shiela Escamilla

Student Services Coordinator

Why Briya? Because it is like a refuge.

I came to the U.S. from the Philippines with my family when I was only 14 years old. When I arrived, I felt a great cultural change and had a feeling of freedom. At that time, my mother connected with an organization like Briya to provide information about health care and education.

My relationship with Briya began when a friend told me they were looking for volunteers in the pre-K program. That first contact with Briya was magical. Every person I came across was kind and friendly, and I felt at home.

I volunteered and then was offered a position as a pre-K teacher, which I held for six years. Today I work in student services. I decided to change because I wanted to spend more time with parents and to offer support by connecting them with useful resources.

Briya is very important for the community because we work with immigrants as whole people. We offer adult education, social services, health care, early childhood education and much more. It is not just an English school. It is a place where people find a home, a community. 

If I had to describe Briya I would say that it is a refuge, because when you arrive at a new place, a refuge is what gives you security. That is why multicultural, multi-generational programs are so important. Knowing who you are is part of true integration. Forcing assimilation for students would be like forgetting their roots, and each person brings a history, a language, and a culture and that is totally inspiring. At Briya, we all learn from each other and the circle widens and feeds back.

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Lyle Ring

Adult Education Lead Teacher

Why Briya? Because of the rich cultural exchange.

I have been working in adult education for over a decade. My transition to adult education has its roots in my experience teaching abroad in Romania. While teaching at a local primary school as my main assignment, I also led conversation classes in the evening with a small group of parents. This eventually led to me volunteering with a program in Boston, then working on a part-time basis, and then finally as a full-time career.

I’ve been part of Briya since 2021 and feel very lucky to have found the school. Children and families are the foundation of Briya’s work. In addition to my regular English classes, I coordinate classes on child development where parents share experiences of what it means to raise children and understand their development. This challenges me to listen to other parents with different backgrounds and opinions. The exchange is wonderful and enriching.

Also, I learn every day from my students about different countries, cultures, foods and experiences. Everything allows me to open my mind and discover new ways of seeing the world. One thing that I am always observing and learning from my students is the joy that comes with mixing different cultures and languages.  We form a little community of our own that celebrates differences, and explores new ideas, and faces common challenges and goals.

I feel that today I have more professional and personal tools to help people. I learn as much as I teach, and it makes me a better person.

Adult student and teacher look at a worksheet together