Surprize Parker and Luis Luna Join SCAN Team in Richmond Public Schools

SCAN has the opportunity to deepen our partnership with Richmond Public Schools during the 20-21 school year through support from federal CARES funding. Two new SCAN staff, Surprize Parker and Luis Luna, have already begun working within the school system. They join SCAN staff, Olivya and Margo that have been embedded within RPS since 2018. Through this project, Luis and Surprize will provide technical support to RPS staff and community partnerships in order to build their capacity to identify and respond to manifestations of toxic stress in educational environments in a trauma-responsive manner, as well as develop skills to actively build resilience in students, families and staff to serve as a preventative and universal support. We are thankful to have Luis and Surprize join the SCAN team!

Surprize Parker picture

Surprize Parker

What has your life/work experience been that brought you to SCAN?

I am the oldest of four children to a single parent teen mother. My childhood experiences are similar to many of the wonderful children and families we serve. I remember throughout my schooling there was always a significant adult (staff) that supported me and my family. It has always been my heart’s desire to be just what a child needs, just as the many along my journey were just what I needed!

I began my work in this field as a family advocate with Henrico Public Schools and then transitioned to an identical role as a Parent Liaison with Richmond Public Schools. In this role I provided support for parents to help them better navigate the school system. This role also allowed me to help educate parents about trauma and how it may show up in every day arenas, and provide resources to help them work through issues as they arose. While doing this work I obtained my degree in Professional Counseling and then transitioned into the role of Behavioral Specialist also with Richmond Public Schools. In this role I worked diligently to support teachers, administrators, students and their families to understand the social emotional needs of children and by doing so helping to mitigate challenging behaviors. In this capacity I was able to work with Margo and other SCAN staff to enrich the staff of RPS with Trauma Informed professional development to continue the work of becoming a Trauma Informed Community!

Do you have any goals or hopes for the next year?

I have a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling and it is my hope to work towards completing my hours to obtain full licensure and to be a greater asset to SCAN and have a greater impact on creating mindful living in Richmond.

 It is also my hope that through the work of SCANs RPS Trauma Informed Team that we help to create mindfulness practices as a way of life, to shift the culture of RPS and the community at large. I hope that the impact is allows for school staff, families and students to feel safe and supported each and every day!

Are you involved with any other community organizations, hobbies, or activities?

I volunteer most of my free time to youth sports, serving in many roles to support the growth of the youth involved. I also tutor children and provide ongoing support to families to navigate resources in the community.

 I enjoy reading, shopping and event planning. My most treasured time is spent with my family, my supportive husband, Jermaine, and my two wonderful children Cayden (10) and Cailee (2).

Luis Luna Pic

Luis Luna

What has your life/work experience been that brought you to SCAN?

I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia and immigrated to the United States at the age of four. I do not consider myself a refugee, but my family left Colombia because of much of the turmoil that ravaged the country in the 1980s and 1990s. I grew up in a very diverse community with a very diverse core group of friends. However, growing up as a Latino immigrant in the United States provided me with experiences and a very unique perspective that has informed my work today. I learned early on through my own experiences that people are treated differently by society because of their demographics, and as someone who loved all my friends from all different walks of life, I could not understand why this was the case. It was not until high school and then undergrad that I really understood why I was l perceived and treated differently than others around me. Finally, while studying at Virginia Tech, I decided that I would become a teacher because I wanted to help those that felt like me, or that may have been treated worse than I ever had, navigate their adolescence in order to inevitably become healthy and successful adults.

Upon graduating with my Master’s in Education from George Mason, I decided that I would move to Richmond to teach at the Richmond Alternative School. During my tenure at the Richmond Alternative School I lost precious children to gun violence in our city. Children that I had the pleasure of building relationships with would get arrested for anything from petty larceny and possession of drugs to homicide. I began to question my role in my students’ lives and the role of public schools in general. This led me to do some independent research and I learned about the ACEs Study and how trauma impacted our children. I then reached out to GRSCAN and the Trauma Informed Community Network in order to help bring trauma informed and resiliency building practices to the Richmond Alternative School. Unfortunately, by the time GRSCAN was able to start working with the Richmond Alternative School, the latter was set to be privatized and upon its privatization I was transferred to Huguenot High School, the only high school in the city at the time that had an English Language Learner program.

During my time at Huguenot High School I experienced much of the same issues that I saw at the Richmond Alternative School to a lesser extent, but also became more aware of the traumas our Latinx community has and its impact in the classroom. As a teacher, coach, and volunteer with LULAC and the Mayor’s Youth Academy, I made a deliberate effort to build relationships with all my students and their families in order to better serve our communities. Over the years I continued to advocate and organize for trauma informed and resiliency building practices as well as services for our ELL and SPED students, whom are often times the most marginalized. Many years later I have come full-circle to work for GRSCAN as a Trauma Informed Education Specialist to impact our schools at a more systemic level.

Are you involved with any other community organizations, hobbies, or activities?

I volunteer as a community organizer and advocate with a number of different organizations in the Greater Richmond area. I am on the Richmond for All Governing Board by way of founding and then being elected as Chair of La Gente, RFA’s Latinx Caucus. I am also elected leadership of the Mayor’s Teacher Advisory Council. I am a member of Richmond’s chapter of Virginia Organizing and I serve the RPS Latinx community through my membership in La Comunidad. In the past I have been in organizations like POWER, or People Organizing With Educators in Richmond, worked with LULAC, or League of United Latin American Citizens, and volunteered with the Mayor’s Youth Academy. I am a TICN member where I serve on the Trauma Informed Schools Committee and I have been trained in community organizing by the Industrial Areas Foundation. Most recently during social distancing, I volunteered delivering groceries with RVA’s Mutual Aid Drive, delivering meals with RPS, and distributing laptops and hotspots with RPS as well.

Outside of community organizing, you can catch me coaching the men and women’s soccer teams at Huguenot High School or playing soccer in Richmond area adult leagues. During the social distancing period I took up tennis to try something new that adhered to social distancing guidelines. I love to travel, meet new people, try new cuisines, immerse myself in different cultures, and listen to live music at concerts or festivals. I am happiest by the water so you can also catch me on a paddle board or relaxing on the James River.

 

 

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