Superintendent’s Spotlight: Yogi Patel
Yogi Patel started his first year at Warwick Valley High School just like any other freshman: new school, new schedule, new classes, new teachers, new classmates... an entirely new country.
Wait a minute! What?
“Well, my mom and dad’s [home] was in India, but I was born and raised in Kenya. My mom’s mom lives here now, so we decided to move here, too,” explained Yogi. The Patels moved to the United States from Kenya on May 18, less than four months before Yogi was to start the school year.
“Yogi was only here a short time before it seemed like everyone knew him,” said Warwick Valley High School Principal Marguerite Fusco, “and it’s because he is kind and friendly, and treats everybody with respect.”
Ms. Fusco said that Yogi’s classmates have been curious about his background, and that he loves to share his experiences and stories with them.
“Many of his classmates may not know what life is like outside of Warwick, so knowing someone their own age, willing to share personal stories about growing up in Kenya is wonderful,” said Ms. Fusco. “Yogi is so eager to give everybody that different perspective.”
Yogi loves it when peers ask about his life in Kenya. They want to know what’s different.
“I tell them everything is different, so it’s a long list,” he said with a laugh. “Everything, from supermarkets to even the police and teachers. Everything is different. Even how to make a turn in traffic is different – there are no stop signs; you just go!”
Classmates have been particularly curious about what a typical school day in Kenya looks like.
“It goes from 6:55 a.m. until 4:20 p.m.,” he said. “Grades one through five leave at 3:20, but in the upper grades there are more classes, so we would stay until 4:20.”
Yogi also said that he finds the learning here in America to be excellent, and appreciates the attention he receives from his teachers.
“My perspective on school is that teachers are here to help us with our futures, and everyone here is so helpful,” he said.
Yogi’s teachers feel strongly about him too, especially when it comes to his strong work ethic and natural capacity for leadership. Stephanie Wayte sees both on display during her ENL classes.
“Yogi is always working hard on his studies, and whenever he sees a chance to help someone, he gets up and helps them right away,” she said. “If the students have a test or a quiz, Yogi is always the one to get his classmates excited about it, with a ‘hey, we have a math quiz today, come on everybody!’”
Yogi said his favorite courses are ENL, math, and science. He said he is looking forward to some research projects that are coming up in his science class, and that he’s already gotten involved with the Environmental Club.
“I like science, and I just like to see the world,” he said. “One day I would like to be a doctor. Actually, a dentist!”
Makes sense, because Yogi is known for his ever-present smile which, Ms. Fusco said, reflects the optimism and outgoing nature that Yogi is well-known for around the high school.
“Yogi loves school and meeting new people,” she said. “He always has a smile on his face and his good nature is infectious. We are so happy to have him here at Warwick Valley.”
At home, Yogi likes spending time hanging out with family and keeping an eye on his eight-year-old sister.
“When my mom and dad are at work, we go over to the park to play,” said Yogi. He added that they enjoy playing football together, which, he points out, “actually means soccer.”
What tips for success would Yogi share with someone else who might be about to jump into a similar, completely new situation?
“Just be friends with people. Include them in things,” he said. “Help them introduce themselves to others and make friends. Help them with class work if they don’t understand it. Just help them.”