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El Mundo Boston 2018.

YASENIA DUDLEY

Dean of Students, Brooke Charter School - East Boston

Heritage: Panamanian

Age: 27

 

Notable Accomplishments:

  • Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellow

 

By: Alejandro Ramirez

 

In high school, Yasenia Dudley always spoke up for herself, even if that meant confronting a teacher in front of the whole class. Despite repeat suspensions and the view that she was a problem student, Dudley still earned high marks, graduating with a 3.98 GPA.

 

There was a disconnect at her school: a system of discipline that didn’t help students grow. Dudley says she learned nothing from the suspensions - they just painted a smart kid as a bad student.

 

“When you’re getting in trouble all the time, people have this stereotype and this perception of who you’re supposed to be,” said Dudley, age 27.

 

“What they considered my problem was the fact that I had a voice, and I didn’t stand for anything I didn’t think was fair.”

 

That experience has influenced how she approaches her role as Dean of Students at the Brooke Charter School in East Boston where she oversees discipline, culture, and behavior management. Rather than a scary disciplinarian, she works as an advocate for the students.

 

“I didn’t want to make my students feel like they had to do what people just told them to do,” said Dudley, who’s been at the school for three years.

 

In her role she works to create new strategies to lower the number of student suspensions. During her time at Brooke she started the Saturday Academy, where students perform community service in lieu of suspension.

 

In 2017 she became an Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellow, which helps Latinos in education build leadership skills.

 

Dudley gives a lot of credit to her parents, Panamanian immigrants, who instilled in her a strong voice.

 

“My parents always taught me to advocate for myself,” she said, adding they still push her, her younger sister, and older brother to do their best.