The student voice of Vista del Lago High School

Beloved AVID Coordinator heads to new position

August 25, 2017

left (Ms.Burgo) right (Oscar  Sevilla 12th) photo by Jackie Perez

left (Ms.Burgo) right (Oscar Sevilla 12th) photo by Jackie Perez

She walks in through the door with her head down.  All of the students’ attentions are caught right away.  The room becomes pindrop silent. She tries to pretend she’s busy doing something on her phone but we all know it’s because she doesn’t want to cry or see anyone cry.  She looks up and gives everyone a sad smile.  Just like that, the students get back down to business and Brenda Burgo is back to being a teacher, even if it’s just for a few more days. It was the day after Burgo had told all of her AVID students that it was time for her to move on to administration. Just one day after Burgo told her students, the AVID class cried as if its mother was leaving.  

Brenda Burgo, AVID Coordinator and former English teacher, will be transferring to Sunnymead Middle School to be an academic coach for English, Social Studies, and EL, ending her prosperous and successful career at Vista del Lago High School.  Her last day here is Friday, August 23.  

“I want [my students] to know that they are the AVID program. It’s not me,” Burgo said.
“I would like to ask them to strengthen that program, to be that leader on campus, to continue to push, and to have those high expectations of themselves not because Mrs. Burgo was telling them to but because it was in them to do so.  If it’s a really good program, it will always be successful even with a change in the coordinator.”

Twelve years ago, Burgo arrived to the small city of Moreno Valley and in Vista del Lago because her sister lived across the street.  She said she “took a leap of faith and said ‘yes, I want to be here.’” A short month later, she fell in love with the students.  “I just got good vibes.  Moreno Valley kids have a lot of heart,” Burgo said while sighing.  

When she first arrived, “There was a really low culture of expectations,” Burgo said. The first thing she did was make a team.  “Mrs. Lawson, Mrs. Rathbun, and I have been here since day one. We would put together our vision and see what it would take to get that vision,” she said.

For Burgo, the two most important requirements she told her teachers were “to make AVID a family and make it fun. You cannot just tell kids ‘college college college’ nobody likes that every single day.  You have to make it comfortable and safe. You’ve gotta do team building and have fun in there. We wanted to have a family here so I think together with me and my team, counselors, admin, we have created that here.”  

Now that Burgo has successfully flourished Vista del Lago’s AVID program and college environment, she felt a little tug on her heart that she needed to move on and “reach out to more students.” “I had the best setup in the world. Who would want to leave that?” Burgo exclaimed.  “I feel like I am leaving my 600 students to go help twice that.”

Burgo’s favorite thing about her job was the students and coworkers. She has met the best people in her life at Vista del Lago who have overflowed her with love. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Lawson and Mrs. rathbun, two of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. Mr. Stowe and Mr. Viebach and teachers that just care. To me, those have been the highlights, the students and the people I’ve got to work with.”

When it came down to school, Burgo is super serious.  “Seeing students get accepted to college, felt like I was getting accepted. I get so excited.  Those things made everything worthwhile.  I could do all the work.  I could deal with all of the craziness because of seeing these students accomplish things they didn’t know they could accomplish,” Burgo said.  

The hardest part about her job is not having enough time in the day to do all of her work and still go home to spend time with her children. “[Sometimes], I didn’t get to help the student out like I wanted to because I just didn’t have the time.  That’s the worst part about this job,” Burgo admitted.  

Although Burgo is always busy, she never hesitated to make time for her students when they needed help.  “She has always been there for me whether it was about school or personal. She’s always been my shoulder to cry on. She’s always given me the best advice and never judged me.  She just helps guide me the right way.  Whether I’m stressed with school or just having personal problems, she was always there to listen,” said Senior Alexis Brito.

Burgo has the ability to bring out the best qualities in her students and the people she has worked with.  “She’s changed the lives of so many people..Thank you so much for seeing something in me and bringing me into the AVID program.  This has been the best working relationship ever,” said AVID teacher, Jacquelyn Rathbun.  

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