Spotlight: David Mendez
What is on your playlist?
A mix of almost anything R&B, Hip-Hop, Latin, other international tunes, instrumentals, and Smooth Jazz
David Mendez is a Site Coordinator for the Dreamline program. He works as a Dreamline Coach at Humboldt High School. David comes from St. Paul’s West Side community. He is a poet with pieces published in the St. Paul Almanac and other collections, he is also part of a Latinx poetry collective. David draws upon his blue collar roots, cultural connections, and his work in Dreamline as inspiration for his art. David has a Bachelor's degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. He first heard of The Sanneh Foundation through Tony Sanneh, who he met at a Public Allies event, and found out about Dreamline a couple years later. Because of his passion for youth work, David felt that the Dreamline program would be a great opportunity for him to share his skill set with others.
What is a day as a Dreamline Coach like?
In my five years with Dreamline, I’ve learned that once you step into Humboldt High School you are moving all over the place; this work keeps you on your toes. You greet and connect with students from 8:00am-5:00pm, you answer questions, get smiled and scowled at while students are making arrangements to come work with you, check in with you, and ask questions—all before you enter the classroom. In the classroom, I try to help the teachers as much as I can, whether it be participating in the lessons, or just observing how the students are acting. After school is just as busy as well, for a time we didn't have enough chairs for all our participating students. Barely a day goes by when I am not tutoring and working, in some capacity, with Dreamline alumni. In previous years I was working with high schoolers, so that is where I have some of the strongest relationships. Even though this is my first year working with middle schoolers, I was very surprised at how open students and staff were, they really accepted our program.
What are some of your biggest successes?
For me it was definitely seeing students who were part of Dreamline as freshmen become graduates. The connections I built with my students from freshman to senior year kept growing, making the school environment more inclusive and better overall. Being a part of their high school journey and seeing them become leaders and scholars is something very special—but a little bittersweet.
How has COVID-19 changed you? How do you approach the work now?
With distance learning now being the norm, it is a brand new challenge not only for myself but for most teachers. I try to approach it with a helper mindset. Teachers are constantly trying to put out fires, so if there is any way I can help them, then I’m in. Because of COVID I’ve had to learn new skills in video recording and editing. Before the pandemic, I would participate in weekly readings for the 6th grade English class where I would bring a short book and read to the class. But, now with distance learning, I am making videos of myself reading for the teachers to share.
I am also staying connected to the staff, particularly those working with the seniors. I was fortunate to work with this group when they were in Dreamline as freshmen and sophomores. A lot of strong relationships are what keep people together, so even though we may become distant, I am determined to see my students through this school year and celebrate their success.