Growing up, my father always said, "Education is liberation." As a child, I always knew what he meant. I have to succeed in school so I can succeed in life and be "free." Needless to say, after college I obtained a job as a teacher. I taught middle school for four years at an urban school district. While teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), I came across different types of students. There were many students who were more focused on having fun, wearing the latest styles of clothes, and being the class clowns. However there was a particular group of students that, although being humble, had the greatest determination to learn and take advantage of what my class had to offer. I later came to learn that these students were identified as migrant students. Little did I know that these same students were going to change my career.
Over the course of the next four years, I witnessed the migrant students making the most gains in my classes and began to investigate more about migrant education programs. I became so involved that I ended up working in the Migrant Education Program for the state of Pennsylvania. The experiences that brought me to ESCORT were exactly what I needed to understand the struggles migrant students and their families face. Working with an organization like ESCORT has given me the opportunity to work with not only migrant children and their families, but also with other educators across the country. I provide technical assistance to states regarding the identification and recruitment (ID&R) of migrant students. I believe that ID&R is the first service schools can provide to migrant families. My work and commitment is evident in my working relationships with several states since 2007. The responsibility of determining who is eligible for the migrant program is one I take very seriously. More than anything, helping others learns and take on that responsibility is how I provide the migrant children we serve the opportunity for an education that liberates them for the bright and successful futures they deserve.
As the ID&R Trainer for Florida, Jorge Echegaray provides technical assistance and professional development for Florida's Migrant Recruitment Staff. Such assistance includes: the most effective and appropriate strategies to identify migrant families, interview techniques, and strategies for collaborating with school districts and community-based agencies. Jorge has many years of experience working with and advocating for migrant and bilingual students and their families. Until 2005, he had been an ESL Teacher in the Allentown School District in Allentown, PA. There he also served as an Adult ESL Instructor and assisted in the development of a community-based after-school program. In 2006, he served as the Fiscal Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Migrant Education Program (MEP). During that time, Jorge became aware of MEP program guidelines and regulations with emphasis on ID&R efforts, as well as current guidance by the Office of Migrant Education. Most recently, Jorge worked at the Florida Department of Education as a Grant Specialist. Jorge holds a Human Development and Family Studies degree from the Penn State University and a Master's degree in Education Leadership from the University of Central Florida.