Arvizu found her love of psychology through a connection with teacher Jayme McWain. She also learned the benefit of pushing through the tough times, even when you don’t feel like it.
“I absolutely loved that class,” Arvizu said. “(McWain) made me fall in love with psychology. That class is literally the best class I ever took in my life. I'm really happy I did.”
It’s no surprise Arvizu connected so well with McWain. The psychology teacher was a finalist for the 2019 Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year Award, and Grand River Prep outperforms the local district in all subjects.
“She helped me so much,” Arvizu said. “I think it was March and I was still not done with my senior portfolio, and I remember we had a half day and I wasn't going to go to school that day and she told me ‘I better see you at school tomorrow because you're going to sit in my classroom and you're going to finish your senior portfolio so you can get it over with.’”
Arvizu went to school the next day, more tired than usual, but sat down in McWain’s class and finished her portfolio. Her respect for McWain, coupled with the belief the teacher had in her, added to her willpower.
“I don't think I would have done it if it wasn’t for her pushing me. I just love how she was always there for students, and she believes in her students, that we're capable of doing so much more than we think. I just love her.”
Arvizu plans to attend Grand Valley State University in the fall and will major in business with a minor in psychology and offered some advice to incoming high school freshmen.
“Grand River Prep taught me so much, but I will say that in general high school taught me to just be a better person and also learn from mistakes.”
She recalled cruising through middle school with straight As but faltered a bit when she saw her first C grade on a midterm report.
“I was so discouraged, and it was very upsetting but thankfully, I had amazing teachers who explained to me, that it was OK,” she said. “It was OK that I had a C because that was a midterm grade, not my semester grade. I would just say that not giving up and persevering is the best way to go, in high school and throughout life. It can get hard but if you're truly determined, you can do it.”
She also suggested freshmen get involved in as many school events and organizations as time allows.
“I was part of the student ambassador program which helped me a lot, not only to expand my communication skills but also to learn how to be a true leader within the GRP community. In that program, you give tours to incoming freshmen and new students.”
Finally, Arvizu leaned heavily on the importance of creating positive relationships with teachers.
“I know there can be some teachers that you might not be the biggest fan of and that's totally understandable but try to have a good relationship with them. I mean, this world wasn't made for you to like everybody, so try to keep a peaceful relationship with your teachers.
“Just have a peaceful bond with them. Don't take anything too seriously, because if you take it too seriously, that's not good. That's not going to be good in life.”
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Grand River Preparatory High School is a tuition-free, public charter school in Kentwood, Michigan, serving students in ninth through twelfth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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