YES Prep Public Schools
Chris Bertaut, Development team

An annual tradition, YES Prep hosts Junior Spring Trips where over 600 11th graders from all our secondary campuses travel to colleges and universities nationwide. Providing an opportunity they might not have had otherwise, these college away "spring trips," since they take place in the spring time, give students access to a rounder college experience by visiting college campuses outside the Houston area.

Abby Carroll, a ninth-grade algebra 1 teacher at YES Prep Northbrook High, is going above and beyond by providing this same access to Northbrook freshmen and sophomores.

We visited with Abby to learn more about her history with YES Prep and the impact she sees taking students earlier in their high school careers to colleges and universities outside of our city.

How long have you been with YES Prep? What inspired you to join the team?

I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I was in elementary school. I was connected to YES Prep by friends from a previous job. I was initially scheduled for a two-hour campus visit but stayed the full day meeting the team and learning about the campus’ incredible and impactful programs. I fell in love with the Raider family and have been here for the last seven years.

I knew YES Prep Northbrook High is where I wanted to plant roots and support our amazing families in Spring Branch because our school prioritizes people and we take care of one another as a staff. That can be rare in the workplace and that is what inspires me to continue teaching alongside my amazing peers.   

What benefits have you seen from hosting these spring trips for 9th and 10th graders?

The beauty of taking 9th and 10th graders on spring trips is that not only are they beginning their high school career but are also exploring options of what comes after they graduate. We want all students to be “college ready” and these trips give freshmen and sophomores a chance to expand their horizons and explore what is out there earlier on.

Spring trips not only allow students to see colleges and figure out where they see themselves but also provide a beautiful experience for kids to just be kids. Being away from home for three days straight allows students to have meals together, create new friendships, cultivate a stronger sense of independence and confidence, have new adventures that they would’ve never otherwise had and develop great social and life skills.

Many of our students also experience several “firsts” during spring trips - their first time at a hotel, first time sharing a room with friends, first time meeting a college professor and first time in a dining hall. I’m proud to be able to provide these “firsts” earlier on to our 9th and 10th graders. All of those experiences just add to their life toolbelt when they are off on their own after high school graduation!

What is one of your favorite memories from these trips?

Five years ago, one of the students on my trip was Allison Molina, class of 2022. Her 9th grade spring trip was the first time she left home without her family and it opened her eyes to different opportunities she did not know existed for her future.

While helping her with her college application process, she shared that her experience on that trip was the reason she felt that college was even possible for someone like her. Fast forward to last fall when I had the opportunity to help her move into her dorm room at Boston University. As we were unpacking, it brought me so much joy to hear Allison talk about how her 9th-grade spring trip allowed for this dream to be possible!

Our YES Prep teachers work tirelessly to ensure our students have the resources they need to learn, grow and thrive. What inspired you to start hosting and fundraising for these trips?

Our students work hard in class daily and often work outside of school and/or take care of family members. Opportunities to just be a kid are few and far between. I remember starting to host local trips and asking friends and family members for tickets to athletic events, the rodeo, art museums, etc. When I received those tickets from generous friends and family and used them with my students, I saw how their faces lit up and it hit me that my role is more than just being an algebra teacher.

I began to see that students need to explore, see what is out there, and do so with peers and teachers. I knew that my students needed to have the opportunity to learn about life outside of their zip code.

My passion for providing access to a great math experience evolved to also providing a well-rounded ninth-grade year, filled with opportunities and experiences. It became my new mission. I began to see that students need to explore, see what is out there and do so with peers and teachers. I knew that my students needed to have the opportunity to learn about life outside of their zip code.

You appear to have mastered the art of peer-to-peer fundraising. Can you tell us a bit about your fundraising strategy for these trips?

Knowing that each part of the trip makes a significant impact on my students makes me more motivated to fundraise. Fundraising for this trip makes a direct impact on a student’s life and helps give life-changing opportunities to inspire our future generation of leaders!

People are willing and want to support, they just need specifics on how they can support and an accessible way to donate. I have found in the past that itemizing parts of the trip are the best way to receive funds. It is amazing that if you share in a brief paragraph on how this trip directly impacts a student’s future (and how it does that), people are usually willing to help!

We are so grateful for Abby’s many years of service to YES Prep and her dedication to creating the brightest future for our students. Thank you, Abby!  

To learn more about how you can support YES Prep students on their path to college success, click here.

About the author

Chris Bertaut (he/him) joined YES Prep in 2022 as the Donor Communications Manager. Chris holds a BA in Sociology from Sam Houston State University, a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Houston and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Prior to YES Prep, Chris spent nearly a decade working in fundraising operations and special events at Rice University. In his free time, Chris serves as a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Greater Houston Chapter and is a senior volunteer at Friends for Life Animal Shelter. Chris is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community and has two adorable cats, Annabelle and Rowan. 

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