Fredi Avila: Teacher at Bradley Tech
MPS Milwaukee Tech High School Class of 1992
When Fredi Avila graduated from Milwaukee Tech (now Bradley Tech) in 1992, he didn’t plan to be a teacher. In fact, Fredi didn’t plan to go to college. He’d worked hard to earn an apprenticeship and was weeks away from starting down that career path when he received a call that would change his life.
“I got a call from Milwaukee School of Engineering with an offer of a scholarship and financial aid,” says Avila. “At first, I wasn’t very interested. But when he told me I could go to school and play soccer, it got my attention.”
Avila enjoyed school and soccer, but then broke his leg. He was forced to sit out of school for a semester. He lost his scholarship, and for a while, his way. He enrolled at Milwaukee Area Technical College, earning an associate’s degree, but didn’t know what he wanted to do. An advisor at MATC suggested he apply for a job as a paraprofessional in Milwaukee Public Schools. He began working at Longfellow Elementary School and enrolled in UW-Milwaukee. His skill connecting with students made an unusual impression on his principal, LaBelle Calaway, who told him she didn’t want him to continue working at the school as a paraprofessional.
“She told me I’d never become a teacher taking one class at a time,” Avila remembers. “She said I had talent and should finish college.” Avila wasn’t thrilled with her advice, but he took it. Two years later, after he graduated, he went back to Longfellow and thanked her.
For 14 of the 15 years Avila’s been a teacher, he’s taught Spanish and served as the soccer coach for girls’ and boys’ teams at his alma mater, Tech.
“It was incredible to see myself as a colleague to some of those who taught me,” says Avila. “It’s been an exciting adventure to go back to the school that did so much for me.”
Avila also remembers something else about his time as a student at Tech. “The high expectations teachers had of me helped me shape my goals. The high expectations they had of me became my own guidelines for success.”
It’s a lesson Fredi Avila learned more than 20 years ago and one he teaches in his own classroom today.