As part of her “Basha Gives Back” service project, student Jadyn Ocampo awarded seven teachers scholarships to help them repay their student loans.

With balloons in hand and a check the size of half a billboard, Jadyn Ocampo walked with her mother to the Chandler Traditional Academy – Independence Campus on Friday morning.

Upon entering the school, the principal greeted the couple, leading them back to a specific classroom.

A quick knock on the door and the students cheered for PE teacher Hunter Wilkes.

“So happy to tell you that you are a recipient of the Al and Lori Ocampo Scholarship,” Ocampo said as he presented the big check and balloons to Wilkes.

Another round of cheers could be heard as Wilkes wiped away some tears.

“I’m so blown away, thank you so much,” Wilkes said.

It was the second leg of Jadyn Ocampo’s day to deliver checks and balloons to teachers in the Chandler Unified School District.

This is part of his “Basha Gives Back” senior service project. Jadyn, a Basha High School student, worked with her mother, Sara Ocampo, to come up with the idea of ​​helping teachers pay off some of their student loans.

The scholarship is named after Jadyn’s grandparents, who both worked in schools for years.

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Jadyn’s original goal was to award $1,000 to a teacher.

“Every time someone made a donation, I was like, ‘Okay, I can help another person,'” Jadyn Ocampo said.

She ended up raising over $4,300, which enabled her to offer three $1,000 scholarships and four $300 scholarships.

Wilkes said she has been teaching at CTA-Independence for three years. Wilkes explained to Jadyn in her application that she needed to stay an extra year at her out-of-state college to train more in hopes of making the Olympic pole vault team. .

She missed qualifying for the previously team by an inch. In the end, it was an injury that kept Wilkes from trying again.

Wilkes said she had two current school loans.

“I was expecting to repay a loan,” Wilkes said. “But it just seems like no matter how much I spend on it, you just feel like I’m giving away a big chunk of your paycheck and I just can’t wait to be free.”

“It just seems to never go away”

At San Marcos Elementary School, Jadyn surprised fourth-grade teacher Anna Zepeda.

“I want students to keep learning from you, so I hope this helps you do that,” Jadyn said.

Zepeda said she returned to school after starting a family. Zepeda said her ex-husband passed away, leaving her a single mother in need of a way to support her family on a similar schedule to her school-aged children.

“It allowed me to be there for my kids and it gave me a career and an income to take care of my family,” Zepeda said. “So I believe in what I do because I know it can change people’s lives.”

Zepeda received one of the $300 scholarships, which she said would be well spent.

“I believe in helping my students here who I see every day and doing my best for them,” Zepeda said.

At Santan Junior High, Jadyn surprised English teacher Andrew Pezzuto with a $300 scholarship.

Pezzuto said he changed his major from his senior year of college to education after watching his mother struggle to help his younger brother, who was later diagnosed with a learning disability.

“I’ve been paying it since I graduated,” Pezzuto said of his student loan. “It just never seems to go away.”

Pezzuto said the money will be used to help free up space as another baby boy will soon join his family.

“It will allow me to buy stuff coming up, we’re having a new baby in March,” Pezzuto said.

“I want to represent my traditions”

On the final stop of the morning, Jadyn visited second grade teacher Yolanda Jones’ class at Navarrete Elementary School.

“After I’m done here, I go home and get ready, then head to my second job where I don’t get off until usually around 11 a.m.,” Jones said. “Tomorrow I have to get up early so I can finish writing my homework for my other class, then go back to work in the evening.”

Jones, who is from the Navajo Nation, said she has wanted to be a teacher since sixth grade. Now she’s working on another degree in hopes of becoming a director one day.

“I want to represent my traditions and my people in the best possible way,” Jones said.

Jadyn said she was quitting her fundraising platform in hopes of rewarding more of the 34 teachers who applied. If you want to help Jadyn help more Chandler teachers, you can donate here.

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