Partner School Stories

Beyond The Classroom Parent Response #2 Fall 2021

By Samantha Montes

My daughter Leia has been attending Beyond the Classroom (BTC) since we moved to South Pasadena two years ago. BTC has offered her (and her middle-school brother)  a safe, caring space where the teachers have always listened openly and engaged fully to feed their curiosity. The teachers have demonstrated kindness, humility, fairness, and patience – sometimes reminding me to slow down and appreciate their every move too. 


This is why it came as no surprise that they would couple their day-to-day activities with a focus on building their character strengths too. They have always led by example so why not talk about it? Since engaging in this program I have been pleasantly surprised by conversations I have had with Leia and how I have truly seen her mindset evolve. 


On one occasion, while balancing a busy work week and moving into a new home, I forgot to pick her up early to take her to her weekly theatre class. Leia LOVES theatre, so I felt awful. I had also had my parents in town, had taken the Monday off, and was convinced on Tuesday that it was still Monday. I was certain Leia would be devastated and so mad at me. When I picked her up and she saw how bad I felt about the incident, she expressed forgiveness instead of anger. She continued to consult me by saying she understood everything I was going through and encouraged me to have perspective. She then went on to say that she could catch up next week just as she had to do over the summer while we were in quarantine. I love my daughter, but having her express empathy first over anger showed a level of selflessness that I’ve been waiting to see, and was floored to witness it so soon! 


This past week, after a Girl Scout meeting, a parent shared snacks with the kids that included a bag full of sugary treats. My father is diabetic and having watched him struggle through his health journey I’ve become pretty strict about how often we indulge in unhealthy snacks. As such, we have a strict 1 dessert a-week rule and it always comes after dinner. That night I let Leia have her treat, and then the next morning she snuck a handful of cookies for breakfast. Later that night while eating dinner, she confessed. She knew she was wrong, but demonstrated truth and bravery. As such, I did not get mad but thanked her for being honest and simply reminded her of what she already knew and why I felt it important to pace our sugary consumption. 


I am quite impressed by the evolution of my daughter’s character over such a short period of time. I feel as if I’m constantly repeating the same positive mantras but not always getting through. This is why I’m so grateful to be part of a community that helps to grow our kids together. I know Leia has the confidence to be a great leader, but I’m encouraged to now imagine how this, alongside her growing character, can really begin to make a difference. 

— Pamela Morejón de Glesne (Mother of Leia, 3rd grade)

Samantha Montes

Samantha Montes, is the executive director, and co-owner of Beyond The Classroom After School Program. A first generation college student, she received both her B.S. in Sociology with a minor in Education and her Master’s Degree in Education at UCLA.  She has over five years experience in education including public elementary schools,  a Charter School, and Homeschool environments.  As an Ameri-Corp Vista, she was recognized for having the “Most Outstanding Service Award” for the literacy program.  As a recipient of the Governor’s Teacher Fellowship, she worked as an Elementary Teacher serving underperforming schools in the inner city. Samantha’s passion for social and emotional learning led her to open Beyond The Classroom, an alternative after school enrichment program and summer camp serving the South Pasadena community for almost 10 years. Beyond The Classroom has touched the lives of over 200 children during its past years of operation. Samantha’s mission and  vision have come to fruition through this program enabling her to spread her passion in providing an after school program that nurtures children’s emotional intelligence. Samantha lives in South Pasadena and is a mother of three children.