Meet Your Neighbors: Fred Vasquez & Andres Ramirez

Fred Vasquez (Left):

I’ve been a music teacher for 25 years, the last 20 of which were here at Newtown High School in Elmhurst. I’m passionate about what I do, and that passion is contagious. During my off hours, my room is packed with students looking for extra time with their instruments.

Andres is a participant in QCH’s Youth Development Center, which is located in our school. He joined my guitar class two years ago as a way to earn extra credits. At that time, he wasn't motivated in school, and like many of my students had never held a guitar in his life.

After just a few months, Andres became one of the best guitar players in the class. He started showing up for extra practice during his lunch break (and mine). Over time, I saw a complete change in his attitude towards school.

Seeing students like Andres transform in this way is why I’ve spent the last two decades teaching music.


Andres Ramirez (Right):

I signed up for QCH’s Youth Development Center at the beginning of ninth grade. I’d never really felt like school was for me, so I joined the program to improve my attendance and grades.

As a participant, I receive academic support and counseling as well as opportunities to earn extra credits through a variety of afterschool activities. When it came time to choose, I picked guitar class.

I'd never played an instrument before, but when I picked up the guitar, if felt completely natural.  Over the past two years I've gotten really good at it, so I saved up money to buy a guitar of my own. Now I play almost everyday. I still get nervous to play in front of people, but Mr. Vasquez tells me to take it slow, set small goals, and practice. He’s the best teacher I’ve ever had.

Joining the Youth Development Center has helped reconnect to school and find my passion. QCH staff supported me the whole time, and I have a new hobby I love.

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