sHailing from Silsbee, Texas, a small town with just about 6,000 people; Bryana Samuel is adjusting to her new life in Renton, WA that’s surrounded by cold weather, coffee drinkers and consistent rainfall. From learning the ropes, to engaging communities, parents and students and assisting with building programs behind the scenes, Bryana is here to make her mark in the early learning industry.
Prior to accepting her latest role at Renton School District as the Early Learning & Afterschool Program Development Specialist VISTA, Bryana graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Sciences with a focus on Child Development and Family Living. Additionally, she pledged Mu Sigma Upsilon, a multicultural sorority that focuses on uniting all women.
Also studying Pre-Med, Bryana has a vision to one day become a Pediatrician, however, she didn’t want to immediately go down that path once she graduated in August of 2019. Instead, Bryana was in search for a relevant position that could give her a transition in-between school and her educational studies.
After a few internet searches for a role in the Peace Corps, Bryana stumbled across many AmeriCorps VISTA opportunities and landed on a gig at the Renton School District. Once there she resonated with the position as it highlighted its need for someone who had experience with early learning and afterschool programs.
“I’ve always had a passion for early learning…everything starts while you’re young,” says Bryana.
Although Bryana hoped to move to Austin, Texas immediately after graduation, the role as an Early Learning & Afterschool Program Development Specialist, at the Renton School District and the thought of relocating back to Seattle for a new and fresh opportunity held precedent.
As a Military Brat, Bryana once lived in Bremerton, WA with her mother and father as a small child. While her father was in the Navy, her family was accustomed to packing-up and moving. By the time she grew into her early years, Bryana’s father was stationed in Tennessee. By the time Bryana was in the 3rd grade, she and her family packed up once again and moved to Silsbee, Texas.
Shortly after applying to the Renton School District, Bryana was surprised and excited during her interview process which consisted of a series of emails and skype videos. Shortly after she accepted the position and on September 1st, 2019, she moved to Renton (less than 1 month after graduating from college).
Though it was hard for Bryana to make the sudden decision to move to Washington state for a new role, leaving her friends and family behind, she was eager to make new memories and create a pathway for new opportunities.
New to the area and still at a learning phase with the Renton School District, Bryana has already started hitting the ground running with the work she is doing within the Skyway-West Hill and Renton Highlands communities. While working hard for both RIZ and RIZP initiatives, Bryana is primarily working on after school programs, early learning, professional development opportunities and developing strategies for this year’s Kindergarten registration process. In the midst of this work, Bryana sits on various RIZP action teams (Basic Needs, Early Learning and the Partnership Steering Committee). While she’s still learning the ropes, Bryanna admits to confusions that lie between working with the RIZ and RIZP.
“It’s all a learning process. I’ve never worked at a school district before. In the beginning I was very confused, trying to navigate the differences between the two, it took me a while, but eventually I learned that the RIZ was the zone that focuses on the school district and its geographical initiatives and the RIZP is the partnerships with other people and organizations—I understand it now, but it’s hard to describe this to other people and it can get confusing.”
Throughout her time in this role, Bryana hopes to network with other organizations who are within the same line of work which would help her gain more knowledge into the early learning spectrum.
Alongside her new position within the Renton School District, Bryana is also in the midst of working on a project with local AmeriCorps VISTAs outlining the Opioid Epidemic and presenting research and new findings that could contribute to a safer environment for communities.
So far, Bryana’s accomplishments include:
- Working with Highlands Elementary Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Team
- Implemented a new and fun morning program for our targeted students
- Planning work around reaching out to families and get them resources
- Working with Cherryl Jackson Williams, Community and Family Engagement Coordinator at Renton School District, to improve the OST registration process to create efficiency
- Creating a Site Coordination at Campbell Hill Elementary – helping oversee/facilitate out of school time programs for the community.
Although her current position as the Early Learning & Afterschool Program Development Specialist has an end date of September 2020, Bryana’s plans do not stop there! While she’s in the Pacific Northwest, she’s looking at the University of Washington’s Medical School as a potential university to complete her medical studies. Additionally, she’s starting the process of studying for her MCAT and other possible opportunities to learn about other medical schools in the nation. For fun, Bryana enjoys spending time alone, catching up on the latest crime television shows and every so often hanging out with local AmeriCorps VISTAs for a happy hour night.
“I love seeing families come to events—they get all excited and their kids are just as excited—it’s just really cool.”
Welcome to the community Bryana—we look forward to working with you while connecting our students and families to resources!