By MIA ARANDA
April Saibene, once a student at Redlands East Valley High School, has returned to REV this school year as a newly hired counselor. After working as a counselor at Clearwater Elementary School in Perris for two years, Saibene was first hired at REV as a temporary counselor covering grades ten to 12, last names Dj-J, but a few weeks into the school year, she obtained the permanent position.
Redlands East Valley High School counselor April Gamez in her office on Sept. 8. Gamez counsels sophomores, juniors and seniors with last names starting from Dj to J. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)
Born in Brawley, California, Saibene lived in Mexico until the age of three; her parents were both born in Mexico, therefore she is a fluent Spanish speaker. In addition, she has lived in Redlands and Mentone. In free time, Saibene enjoys spending time with her family. She and her husband, Andrew, currently have a seven-month child named Sonny. Saibene also has three siblings: Diana Gamez (REV 05′), Frankie Gamez (REV 07′) and Angel Gamez (Citrus Valley 12′).
Saibene graduated from REV in 2010. She considers counselor Laree Orland a mentor during and after high school; Orland is currently the counselor that covers all Advancement Via Individual Determination students.
While at REV, Saibene participated in track and field and cross country, coached by Andrea Johnson, and softball with Jim Cruz and Sandy Crumrine as her coaches. She also played soccer outside of school recreationally.
Saibene, being a lover of sports, had thought she would pursue a career surrounding sports in some aspect, such as by majoring in kinesiology.
However, she ultimately decided to major in sociology.
While working toward her bachelor’s degree at Cal State University, San Bernardino, Saibene worked as a waitress at Johnny’s Tacos and Sports in Redlands for four years.
Following earning her bachelor’s degree in 2014, Saibene then worked at Tom Bell Chevrolet for two years. While she was there, she was a receptionist and worked her way up to service writer and later assistant manager.
Afterwards, Saibene attended the University of Redlands to pursue her master’s degree in school counseling while starting to substitute in the Redlands Unified School District. She graduated in 2019.
In addition to coming back to REV, Saibene is also entering the same campus as her older sister, Diana Gamez who is currently in her ninth year of teaching Spanish and Advancement Via Individual Determination teacher at REV.
Gamez used to eat lunch in her room and keep to herself, but now she tries to stop by at least once a day to visit her sister to say hello or have lunch together.
Gamez says Saibene “has a heart of gold and is very compassionate. I know she really liked working at the elementary school level, but I honestly think she’s going to do great things at REV.”
Saibene attributes her sister to being one of her role models as Gamez was the oldest and most influential to her and her siblings.
The personal one-on-one aspect of counseling is what Saibene loves most. She didn’t want to become a teacher because she feels she works better with individual, small groups compared to a big group.
Amid this pandemic, Saibene believes that dealing with grief, lack of social skills and not being cognizant of school expectations are some of the biggest challenges that students are facing.
Due to COVID-19, losing family members has become a common occurrence for some students.
As a result of distance learning for the 2020-21 school year, Saibene feels that some students haven’t developed a grasp for expectations for in-person learning, especially freshmen and sophomores who had never been on the REV campus yet.
“Technically, our seniors were only here for a year and a half, so they didn’t really get a feel for the expectations or like the rituals, you know the things that we have here at REV that make it REV,” said Saibene. “I think that’s a challenge that [students] are facing; they just don’t know and they don’t know what to expect and they all still feel scared and nervous.”
However, in order for students to be successful in high school, Saibene strongly recommends getting involved in something at school, such as clubs or sports.
“I would say make sure you stay involved, be nice to your adults, self-advocate for yourself, [and] speak up for yourself,” said Saibene.
At REV, Saibene aspires to be someone that students and staff feel comfortable coming to.
“I hope to be a safe place for students and staff where they feel comfortable with me whether it’s sharing good news or bad news, if they need some guidance, advice, or just a room for them to vent,” said Saibene.