Meet Natalie Toland, R.O.C.K.’s Elementary School Beacon Director

Meet Natalie Toland, R.O.C.K.’s Elementary School Beacon Director
By Jenna Watanabe, Marketing & Development Coordinator

Please help us welcome our newest R.O.C.K. addition to the management team, Natalie Toland, our Elementary School Beacon Director. In this interview, Natalie tells us about what motivated her about R.O.C.K.’s mission and shares advice for youth who may be feeling a bit out of place.

JW: So Natalie, tell us, what is your big “why”? Why did you apply to work with R.O.C.K.?
NT: I was drawn to the mission of R.O.C.K. I believe in working with the youth and families of San Francisco and helping all students receive quality education, opportunities to expand their horizons and supporting all aspects of student welfare. After working in SFUSD schools as a teacher, I was excited for the opportunity to engage with the community in a different capacity. I also really enjoy working with young adults who are just starting their youth work journey and supporting their professional development.

JW: What is your favorite thing about working at R.O.C.K. so far?
NT: The kids. They brighten my day everytime I see them. I love watching them have fun, learn and grow.

JW: So far, what are 3 words you would use to describe your job?
NT: Multitasking, communication, and accountability!

JW: How would you define success in your position?
NT: Providing youth and families with a safe, and high-quality program. Seeing smiling faces at R.O.C.K. each day. Providing staff with support and on-the-job growth.

JW: Is there anything you would do for a career if you weren’t doing this?
NT: I would probably be a gardener!

JW: If you could learn anything, what would it be?
NT: A new language.

JW: If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would spend it on?
NT: My family.

JW: Do you have any favorite hobbies, or favorite indoor or outdoor activities?
NT: I love to travel, and I love to read. I also love to dance!

JW: My last “fun” question for you is one I have to ask everyone because as a foodie myself, I believe everyone has that one dish they love and I want to know what yours is. So, it’s your last meal—what are you having?
NT: Really delicious vegetarian sushi!

JW: Can you tell me about one big lesson you’ve learned in the past week?
NT: Patience!!!!! I feel like I am re-learning this lesson every week.

JW: For kids who might be facing challenges of their own, what kind of advice would you offer them?
NT: Never give up, keep moving forward. Find your people who lift you up and stay close to them. Love yourself and what makes you unique!

JW: Given that we work with youth, I thought this was an interesting question: what would you most like to tell yourself at age 9 or 13 (or another age that you believe is a tough/awkward time warranting advice!)?
NT: You might see that you don’t fit in with everyone else–that’s okay! Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid of who you are, always be yourself.

Many thanks to Natalie Toland for sitting down with me for the interview. To learn more about our staff and the impact we’re having, subscribe here.