An Insight to Carnegie’s Favorite Wraparound Specialist- Karla Sanchez


Cherry Vo

Ms. Sanchez holds up her corgi mousepad, one of many corgi-themed things in her office.

There’s something familiar about her dimly lit office. Located on the second floor, it’s a beacon of joy for students. To the right, as you walk in, is a countertop packed with school supplies, snacks, cleaning supplies and voting pamphlets. Below that is a butterfly chair with a The Simpsons throw blanket. To the left, a bookshelf crammed with trinkets lining the books. There’s a wall of pictures stringed together, titled “Wraparound Memories.” Pictures of Kaiju, her corgi, adorn the walls as well, along with various corgi memorabilia. The wall behind her desk has cartoon and comic-themed posters by local Houston artists.

“I love cartoons. I don’t think I’ve ever grown up,” wraparound specialist Karla Sanchez said.

As CVHS’s wraparound specialist, Ms. Sanchez has so much to do each day. But what exactly is a wraparound specialist?

“We help with non-educational needs… a quick definition would be [that] I’m the connector, so I connect students and families with resources.”

A wraparound specialist helps with non-instructional needs, including donations and school supplies. She describes one event where a student’s house caught on fire. She was one to help with payments so that the student could still attend school. Along with this, she is also a connector and helps families and students get resources they need, like counseling, tutors and bus passes. She keeps tons of physical resources in her office as well, so anyone missing something crucial, ranging from snacks to notebooks to even just someone to talk to, can stop by. In fact, during the interview, a student came in to ask for a box of macaroni and cheese which was in a pile by the door.

Ms. Sanchez was born and raised in Houston from a Salvadoran-Belizean family and went to University of Houston–Downtown. During her school years, she worked at the Alley Theater.

“I was a huge part of the theater,” Sanchez said.

That’s right. Ms. Sanchez was a theater kid.

“I loved reading about it, I loved acting, but I love connecting with a character and kind of exploring what that meant,” Sanchez said.

For someone who’s worked at CVHS for only two years, Ms. Sanchez has already made a large impact. Students often rave about how nice she is, how truly caring she is, how she listens, how she smiles at everyone in the hallway and how she holds the door open for everyone.

“I mean it to me, it’s important to say good morning and [to] always have a smile,” Sanchez said.

Before working at Carnegie, she worked at several different schools, including KIPP Prime College Preparatory, of which she is one of the founding members. She also worked at the Houston Ballet Academy before she got a job interview with CVHS, which landed her a job as Carnegie’s wraparound specialist.

“It really was a match made in heaven,” Sanchez said.

From the get-go, she wanted to work with students, and after working with middle and elementary schoolers, she settled on high schoolers. 

“If you’re true to yourself, I think students would appreciate that instead of trying to pretend to be somebody. I think students can smell, you know, fake,” Sanchez said.

When she’s not working, however, CVHS’s beloved Ms. Sanchez is a shopaholic. 

“I love shopping. That is my addiction. I love going to see new clothes, new shoes, because my dog tends to destroy my shoes, so I tend to buy more,” Sanchez said.

She also loves walking her little corgi around Hermann Park as well as cooking with her boyfriend. 

“We cook all the time. It’s a stress reliever for us,” Sanchez said, cooking since she was young. “[It’s] very important in our culture to know how to cook.”

Ever since she was young, Sanchez has enjoyed cooking with her mom and now enjoys tweaking recipes to her own liking. Right now, she’s trying her luck at banh mi.

Ms. Sanchez even made the Staff Latin Potluck, giving other staff an opportunity to tap into their inner cooks as well. 

“It’s just a fun way to connect people with a culture,” Sanchez said.

While she has deeply enjoyed her time at CVHS, she has also faced her own difficult times. Even in tragedy, Ms. Sanchez insists on helping others.

“My best friend passed away last year, and it was very, very hard. But, you know, he would have wanted me to be here because he knew how much I loved it. So actually, last year I created these boxes. So if I had a student that we knew that they had lost a family member, they got a box just because. It was full of candy or chips or something like that. His [Ms. Sanchez’s friend] name was Lester.”

Even after this hard time, Ms. Sanchez still wanted to shed light on this situation so she could bring up others in hard times. She understands what others are going through and is always willing to help.

 “It’s okay to say I need help,” Sanchez said.

She states that it’s always okay to reach out in hard times. Ms. Sanchez also says she struggles with anxiety, like many others at CVHS, and understands how it feels. Her best advice to give out to young minds is to never be afraid to ask for help when you need it.