Summer Spotlight: Jessica Donaldson

“The AVANCE families remind me of my own,” Jessica Donaldson shares after completing the classroom preparations for tomorrow’s summer camp. “I see the moms and I think of my mom. I watch how attentive and caring they are to their kids, see how hard working they are, and hear them practicing English, and I’m reminded of all the challenges my mother faced raising me in a different culture as a Hispanic immigrant.”  

An Austinite, Jessica grew up on the East End, just a few blocks away from the AVANCE-Austin office. She views this summer internship, which initially originated as a graduation requirement for her teaching degree at Texas State, as an opportunity to give back to a community she knows and loves, a community that is family.  

Jessica returns to her home neighborhood as a classroom assistant for AVANCE’s H-E-B Read 3 summer camp. During the seven-week program, she’s diligently worked with the AVANCE teachers to orchestrate an interactive and engaging literacy and nutrition camp for both mothers and children. Throughout the weekly classes, she’s exhibited a steadiness, an innate drive to serve and a natural ease that make her a source of calm and care for children, and reliable and resilient facilitator for her team of instructors.  

She notes that working with the AVANCE teachers has been one of the highlights of her summer. Witnessing the teachers motivate and uplift families with their boundless energy and enthusiasm for learning has illuminated her vision of the teacher she strives to be, and the summer experiences at AVANCE will continue to nurture and sustain this vision until it is a reality.  

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