Thomas Jefferson

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Baker Brings The Bread

Posted 12/08/2023 by Makayla Vasquez

Alyssa Baker, a college advisor, adores the TJ atmosphere. photo by Makayla Vasquez

A spotlight on Alyssa Baker, TJ’s newest addition to the Future Center. 

Alyssa Baker is feeling the TJ spirit after joining the staff last year as a paraprofessional, as TJ has been more than welcoming for her. This year she is taking on a new role through an organization called the Denver Scholarship Foundation, as one of TJ’s college advisors in the Future Center. “The staff loves their job and each other. You feel the support through the teachers which also translates to the students,” Baker explained. The diversity at the school is unlike anything else she’s experienced and really sets TJ apart from other schools. “TJ feels homey and safe,” said Baker. “I really enjoy coming to work every day.” 

Prior to joining the TJ staff, Baker, a proud CSU Ram alumni, received her master’s degree in Education. She then went on to teach for a few years before moving to a nonprofit organization in Denver to help high school students with college and career readiness. After working with an advisor from the Denver Scholarship foundation, she realized she enjoyed working with high school students without the stress of grading and lesson planning. She truly began to realize the satisfaction that comes from working with students and supporting them through the process of college applications and other career related activities. She feels as though “the impact of this kind of work is a little bit more tangible.” When her school in Montbello closed down, the former principal referred her to Assistant Principal Paula Hammel. After talking with Hammel, Baker was motivated to join the TJ staff. 

With a daughter who isa year and a half old, Baker’s life is always busy and exciting. In her free time, Baker enjoys taking her daughter to the library, playing with her, and doing different activities together. In addition, Baker is a member of a few different volleyball leagues and is very passionate about the game. She especially enjoys playing in grass as opposed to a gym floor or sand. Volleyball led her to meeting her husband, so they also play a lot together. 

In high school, Baker wanted to pursue a career in psychology. She started college intending to do occupational therapy and work with veterans who experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Baker thought that she would join the army and do something related to psychology, as her dad was in the army. A few years later, however, she decided to switch to international studies with the intention of doing something related to international development. After graduation and an internship, she quickly realized such an industry was hard to get into, as it required lots of networking and connections which Denver didn’t seem to have. After talking with a friend who was a Social Studies teacher as well as joining a club while in college that worked specifically with middle and high school students, Baker realized that helping students to further their education was a great fit for her. While it was not her initial plan to work with students, she discovered a new love for it, leading her to get her graduate degree. 

Baker works with every grade level at TJ. With seniors, she helps them fill out college applications, assist with letters of recommendation, scholarships, and any and all things college related. Baker is also starting a new group this year specifically for underclassmen; she will meet with students a couple times a month to work on their interests, assisting them in connecting with different careers and looking at what educational pathway it takes to get there. The hope is that by the time the underclassmen are seniors, they are more excited and less stressed about their future. The group will also focus a lot on skills that help with emotional well being and additional social-emotional learning supports. The group is called ‘Future Focus’ and while it is by invite only, students who get recommended by their teachers or counselors are encouraged to attend. Despite leading this group, Baker is always in the Future Center, eager and excited to help anyone who might have questions about college or life after high school.