Growing Together
by Carolina Wen '23
Mayen Sarenas enjoying a lovely day outside with her children.
Sixteen years ago, Mayen Sarenas came to HKIS as a Learning Specialist in Lower Primary, and since then, both she and the department have changed.

Mayen reflects on the Learning Support program over the years and applauds the school for staying abreast of the latest research and providing professional development. Every year, the department has grown in the number of personnel, knowledge, and quality. Mayen has grown together with the department and speaks highly of her experience. The department’s most recent focus was the tough work of aligning the program across the school’s four divisions. “When you strengthen the transitions between learning stages, the child benefits.”

"My hope is that the Student Services department will continue to be led by administrators and educators who work together to advocate for neurodivergent kids in every age and stage. May the school continue to  encourage ongoing quality professional development for current and future learning specialists, counselors, and teachers."

When asked what she thinks of her legacy at HKIS, Mayen says that every educator has the same hope, that they can make a difference. She then shared two aspects of her practice. First, the relationships she built. In particular, she spoke of “a trusting circle of support” around each child made up of parents, teachers, and the Support Services team, which was a critical factor for success. Second, her philosophy around learning support. "I have three firmly held beliefs: All children can learn. All children want to feel successful. And no child is intentionally bad at their development, a principle I learned from Dr. Roby Marcou during HKIS professional development. All three truths are at the forefront of my practice,” says Mayen.

Mayen Sarenas’ legacy goes beyond just words. It is the gratitude of past students and parents who continue to reach out to her years later. It is the confidence she instilled in each of her students laying the foundation for their later success. Throughout her time at HKIS, Mayen didn’t just seek to support; she strived to understand and tailor a learning plan that fit each child uniquely. 

For so many students, Mayen was that person in their corner, who celebrated them and allowed them to understand the invaluable truth that “you are so much more than what is difficult for you right now.”

HKIS and the students will miss you, Mayen!

Stay in touch with Mayen at mayen.sarenas@gmail.com.