What I've Learned from Working in Visitacion Valley

by PPS-SF African American Community Advocate, Cayla Allen

Lessons I've learned about our schools after working in Visitacion Valley schools, neighborhoods, and community centers.  

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Joint Efforts

Parents attend a workshop series hosted by non-profits, PPS-SF and Visitacion Valley Strong Families

In my time with PPS-SF I have worked with a variety of schools, communities, and populations. Working in both the parent engagement and enrollment program, has allowed me the opportunity to work with parents from different parts of the city and socioeconomic spectrum.    

Though I have no particular favorites, in my short time working for this organization I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences working in the schools and neighborhoods of Visitacion Valley.  Located in Southeast San Francisco, Visitacion Valley is a host to a diverse set of families and youth with a unique set of challenges and service needs. 

While it is tempting to focus on the many needs of this community, I have found it easiest to acknowledge the strengths and contributions of this special place. In my experiences, I have yet to encounter a community with as strongly a collaborative infrastructure.  Monthly provider’s meeting, the Visitacion Valley Parent Engagement Project, and direct collaborations with other non-profits are all examples of the many collaborative efforts that service-providers, organizations, and community members take advantage of to serve individuals, families, youth and the community itself. 

When I think of Visitacion Valley it is not the challenges of the community that come to mind, but rather the well-established local collaboration and engagement that is occurring.  As many schools and communities in San Francisco face difficulties, I encourage parents and stakeholders to keep in mind that strong schools not only create a strong community and city, but as I’ve learned from my time in Visitacion Valley strong communities can foster strong schools. 

In essence, these interdependent systems rely upon the engagement and buy-in of us all; and as my experiences indicate, the schools of Visitacion Valley are and will continue to be both a contributor to, and reflection of the strong collaboration occurring in this community.