Junior Mia Gorlick speaks on behalf of Sr. Jose Sanchez


Spanish teacher and PBIS coordinator Sr. Jose Sanchez hosts a PBIS celebration to honor NOBLE students. Photo by: Adele Murphy

Shayda Dadvand, Editor in Cheif

Shayda: Welcome to another Highlights podcast episode. Before we dive in, allow me to give you some context on this episode. On Tuesday, March 14, Beverly held another board meeting in which staff decisions were spoken on. The decisions were due by the 15th. And students found out on this Tuesday that one of the Spanish teachers, Señior Jose Sanchez, has been terminated. I interviewed junior Mia Gorlick on the matter, as she’s been advocating for Sanchez’s termination to be reconsidered.


Shayda: The following episode was recorded on March 28, 2023. Sr. Sanchez has since been rehired, but this is the story leading up to that.


Shayda: Hi Mia, thanks for coming here today.


Mia: Hi, thank you so much for having me.


Shayda: Of course. So I want to start off with just, when you first found out that Sr. Sanchez was being fired, what was going through your head when you found out?


Mia: So, my immediate reaction was that I needed to take action and help him in whatever way that I possibly could. My immediate thought was just, I need to start a petition, I need to start speech writing, I have to do something and actually be proactive because this is something I care deeply about and it’s something that I find to be incorrect and ill handled. So, within five minutes of hearing his announcement, I started writing a speech that I delivered later that day at the board meeting, and I was able to get other students on board and we all collaborated in our discussions and in our creation of a petition, which I drafted after school that day and worked on getting signed at the board meeting and in the days following his announcement on Tuesday.


Shayda: How many signatures did you get?


Mia: I ended up getting 294 signatures in 18 hours. And this was only from the school day. So I was getting signatures from students as they were going to their classes, as they were leaving classroom, going to lunch. It was a very chaotic time, but people were really invested in really wanting to help further the cause that I was working to promote. We also ran out of pages on our petition because so many students were wanting to sign it. It was, for me, the most incredible part of this entire experience wasn’t just being able to help a teacher who has made such a valuable impact in my life, but it was also incredible to see the entire community band together and unite and kind of cast off the stereotypes that we put on ourselves and move beyond our usual social groups and our usual expectations of what we do and what others do in order to further this one very important cause. You see students telling each other to sign the petition and get involved, even when they don’t even know each other, and there were so many students who actively came up to me in the middle of their breaks in their time off in the school day to sign a petition I didn’t even know they knew about. People I had no idea really even went to the school. were wanting to be part of this and it was so incredible to bond with these students and get to know them and really see the school in a way I hadn’t seen it before.


Shayda: And what do you think, like, what do you think all of this meant, that so many students were coming together?


Mia: I think that really speaks volumes about the impact that Sr. Sanchez has had. I think it shows that his past students were really impacted by his class, because they signed it. But you also have present students doing the same thing, and you even have students who have never had his class signing this petition because they were influenced by his work and PBIS and its contributions to the school as a whole. And it goes to show just how far his impact has reached. There are so many students on this campus that have in some way been positively impacted by him, and that- that is an incredible thing and it’s so incredible to see them get back in a situation that required their support and their help. It’s incredible because he is, he has made so many contributions to this school, in a way that, every student that I approached was able to resonate with what I was trying to promote and willingly take part in making that petition become a reality in order to support him and make sure he can stay on this campus as long as possible.


Shayda: So the more about the contributions he’s made. Can you talk more about that and what those contributions are?


Mia: So, for me personally, I’ve had him for the past two years in Spanish and I’ve learned so much under his tutelage. It’s incredible. I have gotten better with reading, speaking, writing, and I know that has been a similar experience for many of the students. But far beyond that, he has been a pillar of emotional support during times of personal strain and stress for so many students. He is- he is a safe adult students can approach on campus and talk to if they need that support at that time. And he has also completely revitalized the PBIS campaign on this campus. And he has really been working to change the school culture in that from one of indifference to one of actual investment, and you can see that with every PBIS celebration, more and more students are getting involved, more and more are showing up. More seniors are staying after their classes end to be part of that and I think that’s a really amazing thing. So I have been able to see his contributions to his students in the classroom, but he goes far beyond just being a classroom figure. Whether that is emotional support or working directly with ASB, or working to completely change this PBIS campaign to make it so much more than it was before.


Shayda: Wow, that’s amazing, honestly, thank you. We talked about what it meant for students to kind of unite together and supporting this cause, but then you really put this together and I know that you’re usually a little more shy, but here you stepped forward and here, you showed so much bravery in so much courage, and I just, I just want to know, like, what this meant for you.


Mia: Thank you. I really appreciate that. For me, I tend to be more on the shy side or more on the quiet side when I’m just flying under the radar on its usual day and there isn’t much that needs to be done on some macro level or affecting change in any major way. But when I’m moved by something and when I really believe in something, I have no problem stepping forward and taking on a leadership role. I think for this particular case, I was so impacted by Sr. Sanchez and everything that he’s done at the school that there was no way I wouldn’t advocate on his behalf. And really when it comes down to it, it’s not about being nervous or being uncomfortable, or not knowing the kid in the hallway and so you don’t want to ask them to sign the petition or not wanting to go to the board meeting because it’s scary speaking in front of all those people. You just do it. And that’s usually what happens for me and these major situations. It’s almost like a fight or flight, but different in the sense that it’s just, there isn’t room for debating and wondering whether this is a good idea. You just need to do it because you don’t know if you’ll ever have that opportunity again. And so you just need to seize it when you have it and make the most of it. The best you can do to the best of your ability. And I think I saw that a lot on the very first day once he announced that he was being terminated. Five, six students came to the board meeting and we all had our own respective speeches and we hadn’t collaborated prior, we had discussed meeting there. We discussed, “Oh, I’ll write a speech.” “Oh, I’ll, I’ll sign your petition once you make it.” But that was the extent of it. We all had about two hours on our own to do whatever we could do to support him and go to that meeting. And these kids aren’t necessarily the people who are, you know, leading and spearheading every single campaign on campus. That isn’t to say they’re shy or they’re ineffective, but there’s never been that much of a cause that we have seen in the school to this degree. When push comes to shove, you see all of these students from such different backgrounds, such different leadership roles, such different stances on what it means to be a leader; all coming forward to do this together. And that’s what was so amazing to see. So it’s really not about being uncomfortable or being shy. I’m sure a lot of students are like that. It’s about just doing what you can do to support somebody you care about, and that’s what this was about.


Shayda: Thank you. Can you just say a little bit on who these other students were and what they did.


Mia: When I first heard that scenario, Sanchez was being terminated on that day in his class. A couple of us started having a conversation and making plans to speak at the board meeting that was happening that evening. So I spoke with (senior) Rowan Horowitz, (junior) Michaela Hassid, (senior) Charles McDermott, and later we got ASB president Ashley Jourabchi part of this as well. And we all decided that we would separately present our own speeches and our own cases, advocating on behalf of Sr. Sanchez at that board meeting. And for the rest of that period, we were collaborating when it came to drafting a petition and planning the logistics of arriving at that board meeting, because when we woke up that morning, nobody was planning on spending the afternoon back at school in a meeting room having all of these conversations with all of these board members. So during that time, we were working together collaboratively on a lot of those logistical aspects. But really, it was incredible to see the fruits of our labor that evening because none of us had made a solid plan, none of us had written our speeches together. And when we all came together, we saw how all of them kind of were interwoven in a way that made this full picture of what Sr. Sanchez has done for this school and what a valuable asset he is to this community in a way that I don’t think any of us were anticipating.


Shayda: So mentioned that the day that you found out that morning when you woke up, you didn’t know that this was going to be how your day was going. And that kind of got me thinking of, what do you feel like school would be without Sr. Sanchez?


Mia: That’s a really good question. I think the culture of this school as a whole would shift, I think because he has cultivated so many meaningful relationships with his past and present students, even with students he hasn’t had before—not to mention staff, faculty. I think the entire school would be impacted and it would be felt in a way far more than, “Oh, we lost a teacher.” Because he is not just a teacher. He is an educator and he’s somebody who is passionate about what he does, and everybody can see that. So when you lose somebody in a school, and that person has contributed so much because they are so passionate, that is felt on a very deep level. And you can see it, whether it’s in PBIS celebrations that are more lackluster because he isn’t a part of them, or whether it’s in these classes where there are now fewer students because there’s one less teacher available to teach. I think that is something that is felt holistically; it is felt on an emotional, not to mention academic, level. I think the absence of any educator is a deeply saddening thing, and I think it’s something that you don’t really consider until it’s already happened, but that’s part of the problem. It’s something you need to be able to evaluate and assess before these decisions are made. And I think losing him would be losing such a valuable asset to this school. It’s one less teacher, one less educator, one less PBIS coordinator; it’s a loss of the principal’s designee, it’s a loss of the safe adult for students who need support. I think that would be something that is felt by everybody on this campus, because even if they didn’t know him as a teacher, they knew him as something else, and that something was very important to their school experience.


Shayda: In all this effort that you’re putting in, what do you think you’ll get out of it from the board?


Mia: I really hope that the board takes this to heart. I think they already have. They did seem to be affected by the fact that students actually came to a board meeting in the middle of a work week, and decided to speak because this meant so much to them. In terms of the financial aspects of this whole issue, in terms of COVID spending money, in terms of all of that, there’s really not much students can do, and it’s just for the board to make decisions based on what they are capable of doing, and I know it’s a difficult position to be in. At the very least, I hope that they simply acknowledge how meaningful he is, and how important he is to the school and how much students and staff care about him and see him as such a valuable individual on this campus. I really do hope that change can be effected and that he will not be terminated; that is clearly our end goal. But at the very least, I want the board and everybody else to be aware of the impact that he has had and to respect that and value that, even if he is terminated. There needs to be respect and acknowledgement of everything that he has done and how much he has changed this campus—socially, academically and as a community culture, how much he has impacted it.


Shayda: Well, thank you so much, Mia. Is there anything else that I didn’t get to that you wanted to mention?


Mia: I don’t think so. I think your questions really covered a lot of what I wanted to say and I appreciate you giving me the platform to say it. I just, I want to thank everybody listening to this who has in any way been a part of this campaign and part of this work; it is deeply appreciated. And just, thank you for being part of this. Thank you for being part of this community, and for coming together and casting aside whatever differences usually hold us back, and whatever fear usually holds us back from working to affect change in order to advocate on behalf of somebody we all care about. I really appreciate that.


Shayda: Well thank you so much for coming in, Mia.


Mia: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.


Shayda: Stay tuned for a follow-up episode, now that Sanchez has been rehired.


Shayda: Thank you for listening to this episode. You can view the transcript at beverlyhighlights.com as well as read our other articles. If you have any article suggestions, please email us at [email protected]. And, feel free to follow us on Instagram at beverlyhighlights. I’m Shayda Dadvand, your Editor in Cheif.