Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Adam Escoto believes in respect, empathy, and sincerity. That’s what he communicates to the boys he mentors and advocates for as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). That’s how he asked his teachers to treat his students as a leading educator in East Palo Alto. And that’s how he wished he’d been treated as a young man in the foster care system.
“I try to communicate 3 things to kids: respect, empathy, and sincerity.” Escoto says.
“Respect is communicated by having high expectations of them. Not to have high expectations would be frankly disrespectful.”
“Empathy comes from ‘I’ve been there. I’ve been there.’” He says with feeling. “I not only understand, but I certainly can connect to the issue of separation and loss.”
He continues: “Sincerity comes from just being consistently there—and just being consistent! Because that’s one of the things a lot of foster children don’t have, consistency in their life prior to their placements, and sometimes after they’re placed.”
Escoto’s skills at projecting respect, empathy, and sincerity are one of the reasons he is such a powerful role-model to the three young men he supports as a CASA. They’re skills he earned serving as an educator in Bay Area public schools. Escoto built a career in the San Jose Unified School District, including serving as a principal, before serving as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and also special education at the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto.
As a principal, Escoto drew on his Masters in Social Work and lived experience. He pushed his educators to do everything they could to provide stability to their students when they were in school, from organizing breakfast programs to helping give emotional support.
He would tell his educators: “If they come to school hungry, we feed them—and then we do math! If they come to school exhausted because Mom’s boyfriend was beating her up in the other room, we give them emotional support—and then we get to reading.”
It’s a practical and caring approach to kids who “come to school with circumstances that would overwhelm a healthy adult,” he says. Escoto’s own experiences in the system were recently covered by Morgan Hill Life and make clear how well-earned his insights are.
“It’s so essential for teenage boys to have a stable adult male presence in their lives,” Escoto said to the Editor of Morgan Hill Life. “As a CASA, I can help provide that stability and give these boys the support to create a better future for themselves. I highly recommend people consider becoming a CASA.”
And those three words for his fellow CASAs? “Respect. Empathy. Sincerity.”