LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Brianna Nargiso

Position: After School Paraprofessional
School: Cleveland Elementary
School District: District of Columbia Public Schools
City, State: Washington, DC

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Music that Describes Brianna

Brianna Nargiso was nominated by an anonymous family member.

While she was in high school, Ms. Nargiso experienced the struggles of being 17 and alone in the world. The soccer star, academic powerhouse and community activist came to a halt during her senior year in high school, when it felt like the world stopped. Little did anyone know the strength she would come to find in herself, as she used the fuel from her pain to persist on and accomplish the unthinkable. 

Throughout her senior year in high school, she worked two jobs, was her high school soccer captain, and ranked 25th out of 780 students in her class, all while launching her first nonprofit organization. Her nonprofit was geared toward giving children in her community an after school program where they could spend time, learn, share and have fun. They were taught creative outlets, communication skills alongside music theory, how to play instruments, how to act, and how to speak publicly. With this organization, she was able to help many children in the community who had been written off. Because her program was free and took place after school, many children stayed off the streets until their parents clocked out of work or returned home. This prevented those children from abusing drugs, perpetuating violence, or hurting themselves. 

Creating this program at only 17, Ms. Nargiso was destined for greatness. Now, at 20 years old, she currently attends Howard University in Washington DC, as she continues her fight for advocacy as a paraprofessional at a high need Title 1 school in the Shaw community of Northwest DC. Before working for DC Public Schools directly, Ms. Nargiso worked for AmeriCorps Jumpstart, providing better academic opportunities for preschoolers in disadvantaged communities. It was through this program that she realized the disconnect and shortage of staff for the afterschool program. Motivated to fill the void, Ms. Nargiso applied to work as an afterschool paraprofessional for the following year. 

After she secured the position, Ms. Nargiso began teaching kindergarten. She enhanced students' social-emotional learning and communication skills, stimulated their critical thinking skills, and taught both contemporary dance and hip hop classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

She enhanced students' social-emotional learning skills by teaching them about social justice issues. She listened to their solutions and showed students that regardless of their socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, they have the right to spot discrepancies and peacefully communicate the wrong in them. Her students have learned about historic black and brown activists, writers, athletes, speakers and lawyers. They have learned about Parkland, Trayvon Martin, HBCUs and have learned to not only connect themselves to the realities of this world, but to promote and impact change. 

Through Ms. Nargiso, students have received tons of tutoring, academic reinforcement, extra help, and the confidence to know they can do anything and learn anything! She challenges students critically by presenting real-life scenarios and asking for their leadership and input.

“I need students to see themselves in spaces not traditionally with them in mind. If they only look at what’s happening around them in this community, they’ll never believe they can surpass it," said Nargiso.

Finally, Ms. Nargiso has enhanced the presence of clubs for the afterschool program. She has ensured that every grade be enrolled in a club they find most interesting. Whether it be digital coding, arts and crafts, exercise, crocheting or dance, all students are offered options. Ms. Nargiso has chosen to teach both contemporary and hip-hop dance classes. This has exposed many low-income students to classes that normally wouldn't be available to them. With the dance program, she hosted a family engagement night, where the students take on a leadership role and teach a parent or friend the dance they've learned. This was the first packed family engagement night Cleveland Elementary has seen in years! 

"At only 20 years old, Brianna Nargiso balances her community impact, a full time job and full time college schedule," said her nominator. "She does it all with grace and never slacks. She is a LifeChanger who has impacted the children she works with, their families, and the dynamic of the school she works at!"

Comments (19)

Samantha Leefook Posted over a year ago

Brianna is a one of a kind. She has the passion and drive to always succeed. Since I’ve know her she always cared about her community and once she started teaching, her students became more of a motivator to make a difference. She always tells me about the learning activities that they and how she loves her students. As my friend, she has been a big influence and has been there through a lot. She is a powerhouse on her own and will be a wonderful teacher in Atlanta.

Malcolm McConner Posted over a year ago

Briana is amazing! She definitely deserves this award!

Tina Posted over a year ago

Bri is an amazing coworker. Her positive energy when she walks into work is so transferable in the work environment which is very much needed when your having a stressful day at work. Bri even inspired me to not give up and to keep moving forward no matter how tough stuff things get in life. I Can tell how driven and focused she is to reaching the goals she set out for herself. Congratulations Bri ! Continue on the path you are on & no matter what don’t give up. Continue to be a role model for your students, inspiring them to become someone in life, and to never give up! I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us !

Chiquita Demps Posted over a year ago

I know Brianna Nargiso since kindergarten she has always been a go getter I remember in the 2nd grade she was competing in spelling b's ,every year involved with organizing plays for blackhistory month with her elementary school when the school had parent night different autorium events etc Brianna would always be the one with the microphone in her hand hosting the events after school care she would always want to teach something dance,tutor other less fortunate kids ,& this behavior has grown with her threw out her young life she is a real go getter & I was worried what route she would take after losing her mother suddenly at 17years old who was her best friend but she dealt with it she graduated h.s. went on to college & here we are this young lady is truly my hero God has definitely blessed her

Kierra Posted over a year ago

Throughout my life, Brianna has always been a role model for me. She has always exemplified success and determination. Once she sets her goals, she is committed to seeing them come true. Brianna’s efforts to better not only her own life, but of those around her has never gone unnoticed.

Mrs. Blake Posted over a year ago

Ms. Brianna is an amazing young woman. I see her strengths, talents, and all of her hard work. Her warmth, thoughtfulness, and the way she cares about other people. The person she is exudes goodness and generosity which truly represents her character.

Kaylan Ware Posted over a year ago

I've never seen someone so passionate about something. Brianna's drive inspires other around her to find the things in life that actually stimulate them. Brianna dedicates so much of her time, efforts and energy to ensure that her students are learning, but also having fun, while making them feel comfortable being themselves. Her commitment to transforming education and the advanced material Brianna prepares for her students are ridiculously creative and engaging. With a strong-minded leader like Brianna aiming to shape education, her impact will, without a doubt, be felt by many.

Samantha Leefook Posted over a year ago

Brianna is a one of a kind. She has the passion and drive to always succeed. Since I’ve know her she always cared about her community and once she started teaching, her students became more of a motivator to make a difference. She always tells me about the learning activities that they and how she loves her students. As my friend, she has been a big influence and has been there through a lot. She is a powerhouse on her own and will be a wonderful teacher in Atlanta.

Anijah Willis Posted over a year ago

Brianna is amazing in everything she does. Her passion unmatched and her work is ready to change the world.

Alexis McCowan Posted over a year ago

Brianna is a game changer. Over the last 3 years I have watched Brianna grow and in return her kids have grown alongside her. She is creating a space where elementary school children can be socially aware and conscious of the events going on around them. She continues to to inspire her students, colleagues, and peers.

Tameka Charles Posted over a year ago

Brianna is a phenomenal Afterschool paraprofessional. Every-time I walk into her room, her students are always excited about learning. Brianna amazes me on how she is able to juggle school, work, and other extra curriculum activities. I have never once heard her complain about anything and most importantly she always has a smile on her face at all times.

Victoria McCoy Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Brianna, I wish the best for you and hope you continue to put a big impact on your students lives :)

Chante Russell Posted over a year ago

As a friend and colleague, I've gotten to see Brianna's passion for education and fostering a healthy next generation at work numerous times. She is a true advocate for the needs of the youth and a great teacher. I believe that she has the ability to be greatly impactful in the lives of her students.

Joshua M. Thomas Posted over a year ago

Brianna is truly a life changer! She has been an incredible presence in her students’ lives and will go on to impact so many more as a teacher in Atlanta after she graduates. Brianna has a strong sense of self-confidence which even empowers me to be more confident in myself and who I am.

Lynn Pierce Jr Posted over a year ago

Brianna is following her passion of teaching and guiding the next great generation of students. She creatively develops teaching lessons that challenges the students in a positive, intellectual manner. She has an impactful voice and will continue to be an identifiable example for her students.

Josyana Joshua Posted over a year ago

Brianna cares deeply about her students and positively affecting their lives. She continuously strives to better her classroom and the material she is teaching. It is important to her that what she is teaching is positive and impactful. I have never heard Brianna speak negatively about her job and every time I see her she has a new fun thing to share about her classroom.

Cheryl Posted over a year ago

Brianna has been part of my son’s education for going on 4 years. I see her as an excellent addition to the after school program at our public schools. I am amazed and grateful for how she has added social justice into the curriculum for the very young children — a very important issue that shouldn’t wait until kids are, in later grades, asked to more deeply discuss these issues. I have been in her classroom on several occasions and have seen her engaging the students. She also held a dance event aimed at students teaching their parents some dances they’d worked on with popular music. We don’t get a lot of interaction as parents with what goes on during aftercare/after school programming, so this was both fun and refreshing! After reading Brianna’s profile, I see that these accomplishments are right in character for her. The experiences, activities and advocacy that she has been (apparently tirelessly) involved in started years ago. Kudos to Brianna for all she’s done for her contemporaries, the children she reaches, and the community/society in general! Thank you!

Keishia Thorpe Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Brianna. I hope for you the best and thank you for what you do for your students.

Fatimah Posted over a year ago

Brianna is someone who inspires, who challenges, who sends you in a search of a truer sense of yourself. Brianna has impacted my life and many others. Witnessing her success has been heartwarming and I’m so excited to see what she does next!