This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.
Jonathan, a custodian staff member at Rauner College Prep, says his work is not about the money.
“I love the kids and I love the job. I do this because I’ve seen the Latinx and African American kids who need a model as they’re struggling to finish school and staying away from the street life,” Jonathan said.
As a proud Mexican man born in Urapan, Michoacan, Jonathan has become a staple to Rauner College Prep and Chicago Public Schools for over 30 years. Staff, students, and the Logan Square community have witnessed a single man embody what it means to love your work. Jonathan is never without a smile. He is always willing to lend a hand. One Rauner teacher described him as the “…kindest, most reliable, selfless person I know.” More than anything, students and teachers say, Jonathan’s wisdom somehow provides exactly what you need on your best and worst days.
Jonathan has had his share of worst days, but no one would ever know as he aims to pour light into anyone he crosses paths with. After being denied travel to the U.S. multiple times by Mexican Immigration Authorities, saying: “You are too young, we know you would never return”, Jonathan set out on a difficult path. He knew that there had to be better opportunities for him in the U.S. With that, Jonathan swam not once but four times to try and reach U.S. soil. In his journey, he was captured, jailed, and fined three times before he made it.
Jonathan resided in Ohio at first, but it wasn’t easy. He struggled to speak English, had no money, no papers, and lived everyday in fear, hiding from gangs and law enforcement. He worked many jobs, such as gardener, fast food worker, and maintenance worker. At the same time, Jonathan attended school in order to read, speak, and write English. His dad was his biggest motivator for school, he said. His dad encouraged him that he needed to push through the hard times to reach his dreams. Jonathan’s mom also provided motivation as she told him “If you love what you do, you can do anything.” Sure enough, Jonathan did it!
Jonathan earned four years of college education in Mexico. On top of that, he earned his associate degree in Early Childhood Education in the U.S. For 18 years, Jonathan worked at CPS as an assistant bilingual teacher while also serving as their maintenance man. Unfortunately, the bilingual program in CPS lost funding. However, Jonathan, still with his parents’ motivation in him, found his way to RCP. Rauner’s first principal, Eric Thomas, offered him a probationary maintenance job and since then, Jonathan has been at Rauner ever since. As one staff member said, “Jonathan is the embodiment of ‘it takes a village.”