Partner Spotlight: Bethany Gella

TAW Bethany

When did you join SFCA? What made you choose this school in particular?
I was a student for one year at SFCA after growing up in the community and being part of the programs, but I came on board in 2017. I was a volunteer, then part-time as a TA, and I was also involved in some of their youth mentorship programs. Full-time, I started as a teacher in 2018.

I think I joined to be able to serve the community I grew up in. There’s the personal relationship to the school, but I think it’s really beautiful when you get to be a part of the community you grew up in. The Tenderloin is where my parents lived as immigrants to the Bay Area, and I’ve always had strong roots here.

How do you think the BASIC Fund has impacted your students and the school community?
BASIC Fund has definitely supported our school financially, but in providing scholarships, it has also created new opportunities for those students in terms of relationships, mentorship, and extracurriculars. It’s worked to create a consistent relationship with SFCA by advocating for us to BASIC Fund supporters and create connection points throughout the year, and it’s always encouraging to know how strong those relationships are.

What do you appreciate most about your teachers and staff?
I appreciate that our teachers and staff, although we’re tiny but mighty, are willing to set each other up for success. We’re not just dealing with teaching but classroom management, and being in the Tenderloin, there’s a lot of external factors in our students’ lives. Our teachers really build community with students and parents. They reach out to families to see if students ate in the morning, or if they need glasses—all those little details can get overlooked, but our teachers take the space and time to support and be with their students. They have the same goal and vision, and it’s been beautiful to witness their teamwork and camaraderie.

This year, over 350 BASIC Fund scholars will enter high school, including many SFCA 8th graders. What values do you hope this year’s 8th grade class takes with them when they graduate?
I hope that the seed we’ve planted with our students is that there’s a hope beyond what they see when they wake up in the morning. When they leave the house, they’re seeing homelessness, drugs, the limitations of the Tenderloin, and I hope that the support we’re providing them makes them believe that they don’t have to give up when the world presents barriers. They can be resilient, and they can do hard things. I hope my students see the hope through education and want to pursue higher ed. We want them to dream big. That’s my hope as they go into high school, that they dream big and know they can achieve whatever goal they have in mind.

What advice do you have for this year’s graduating 8th grade scholars?
Respond instead of react. Everyone’s dealt different cards in life, but if you look where you’re at, if you look at the good and what has been given to you, whether that’s friends, family, or other supports, you can use that to push yourself to make wise decisions and do great things. How can you respond to each situation with grace and the purpose you clearly have as a student and a leader? It’s so important to never give up on that.

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The BASIC Fund is a privately funded 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to advance education equity for low-income families by helping offset the cost of tuition at private schools in the Bay Area.

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