May 19, 2021
Teresa Telles, Oxnard Police Department and Oxnard Union High School District
Today we are talking with Teresa Telles, Youth Safety Coordinator, Oxnard Police Department and Coordinator of Work-Based Learning, Career Education Department, Oxnard Union High School District.
Teresa oversees the California Violence Intervention Prevention grant for the Oxnard Police Department. The grant helps to improve public health and safety by supporting effective violence reduction initiatives in communities that are disproportionately impacted by violence. As the Coordinator of Work-Based Learning at the Oxnard Union High School District, she helps students learn skills and career knowledge.
How did you get interested in working with at-risk youth?
Teresa: I grew up in Oxnard and Port Hueneme. I was an at-risk youth growing up and got involved with drugs, joined a gang, and got pregnant at age 16. I went back to school and because of programs and support, I was encouraged to get my high school diploma. I always wanted to give back and got involved with working with at-risk youth 14 years ago with Oxnard Union High School District and the Oxnard Police Department.
At OPD I help coordinate meetings in the juvenile facility to provide resources for youth being released and to help motivate them to make better choices. I coordinate monthly meetings to share resources from agencies throughout Ventura County. The grant has helped provide services to hundreds of youth in the city of Oxnard and Port Hueneme with youth employment, leadership skills, counseling and job readiness skills.
At OUHSD I coordinate industry sector meetings to help teachers, students and our department learn about trends in our county. I assist teachers in our district with work based learning needs such as, guest speakers, job shadows, work site tours, internships and more. I coordinate career related events such as STEAM Day, Career Fairs, and Career Education Showcase. I outreach to middle schools in each of our districts to help incoming 9th grade families to become familiar with the OUHSD career programs.
During COVID-19 classroom activities and services turned to virtual meetings.
What is your passion for working in the community?
Teresa: I was born and raised here and I want to help youth succeed, especially those that struggle like I did. I am a product of programs and people that encouraged me. I mentor youth because I can help them to succeed.
How are you addressing issues of Health Equity in your work and your community?
Teresa: The program at OUHSD helps youth with social and economic disadvantages get college and career ready. As the Youth Safety Coordinator with the Oxnard Police Department, I go to Juvenile Hall to talk to youth and encourage them to make better choices.
What are the areas that you hope to make changes in?
Teresa: I hope to help reduce gang and drug involvement in youth. I can work with youth, monitor their progress, and help them on a personal basis to make positive choices.
Tell us one thing about you that helps us get to know you better?
Teresa: It is important to have positive people around you and mentors that help to change direction. I would like to encourage people that it’s the way you respond to struggles that helps make you stronger and to help others by sharing your story and making a difference.
Thank you Teresa for sharing your experience with us. You are an inspiring Driver of Change!