A Brilla Interview: Mrs. Reyes Claudio

Reyes Claudio plays a special role at Brilla because she is a part of the Brilla family in more than one way. She is the proud parent of two Brilla scholars and serves as the Network Director of Operations (NDOO) for Brilla Public Charter Schools.

Mrs. Reyes Claudio, NDOO, Brilla Schools Network

Mrs. Yeime Valle, Superintendent of Programs for Seton Education Partners, described Mrs. Claudio as,“the force behind many little things that amount to mountains…. her passion, commitment and, most importantly, her love for the Mott Haven community makes her our secret weapon. It is an honor to serve every day alongside such an incredible soul. We are blessed to have her!”


Mrs. Claudio is a proud Bronx native. Having grown up in the northern part of the Bronx, she is grateful to be the product of a strong Catholic education. Today, Mrs. Claudio lives in the South Bronx, is happily married, and the mother of three wonderful boys. Mrs. Claudio has been at Brilla for nearly five years, and is humbled by the range of professional opportunities that have been opened to her. She began her career as an Operations Associate at the flagship campus, Brilla College Preparatory Elementary (BCPE), and has “grown with Brilla” by taking on various roles in the Ops department. Today, she is the Network Director of Operations (NDOO) for Brilla Schools Network, overseeing the Ops Managers at each of the three schools. Mrs. Claudio says that her growth trajectory serves as an example of what Ops Associates at Brilla can aspire to.  Her favorite part about working at Brilla, however, is having the freedom to be herself. Mrs. Claudio said, “I truly get to inspire families and innovate what we are doing in the South Bronx. My ideas are heard… as a parent and also as a staff member.”

I truly get to inspire families and innovate what we are doing in the South Bronx.

Mrs. Claudio loves being a Brilla parent as much as she loves working at Brilla, where her sons are enrolled in the 3rd grade and kindergarten. Brilla believes that parents are the first educators of their children and Mrs. Claudio whole-heartedly embraces this mindset because at the end of the day she knows Brilla will respect her parenting decisions. “I want to be the vision setter for my child,” Mrs. Claudio said with a smile.

When asked what the most foundational cardinal virtue is, Mrs. Claudio responds, “self-control.”  It is essential because it helps one pause, be calm, and process information, which are invaluable to learn at a young age, given the rapid-paced society we live in today. Moreover, she said, “if they do not have self-control, it’s hard to develop any of the other virtues making it difficult to excel in everything else.”

I want to be the vision setter for my child.

Mrs. Claudio appreciates the many opportunities afforded her two sons:  access to computers, Blended Learning, two teachers in each classroom, karate, music, dance, and the El Camino afterschool program.  Brilla’s impact on her children has definitely been the most pronounced through El Camino: “El Camino brought me back to my faith.  The beauty of my 5-year-old son asking me to baptize him, you can’t make that up. Through El Camino he served as the light for my family.”

Prior to working at Brilla, Mrs. Claudio had been told that she had potential but it was Brilla that caused her to realize that “the sky is the limit.” Brilla’s platform of earned trust allows for innovation and creativity, something she has not experienced at any other organization. “If I have an idea or I want to do something, I’m allowed to run with it. And I am trusted.”

“With her children enrolled at the school, her husband representing families as a member of the Family Involvement Committee, and Reyes herself vision-setting as our Network Director of Operations, it is no stretch to say Reyes lives and breathes the Brilla mission. Her commitment to serving the community where she is from, and the passion and diligence she brings to her work, make her an invaluable member of our team. She was born to lead.”

Mrs. Kelsey LaVigne, Superintendent of Brilla Schools Network
The Ops Management Team pose with the NDOO at a Brilla social event to kick off the 2018-19 School Year. From left to right: Gisell Sierra, Reyes Claudio, Christy Mencia, and Gerard del Rosario.

Mrs. Claudio’s Inspirational Quote

Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.

– Maya Angelou

Mrs. Claudio bleeds red and gold (Brilla’s colors) because she sees the difference that Brilla is making in the Mott Haven community. She said it is important for other Bronx natives to understand what Brilla is doing and help support each other.

When asked what the most single important thing to know about Brilla is, she replied “We are more than a school, we are a family. We are really a community and we are here to serve.” Brilla’s service-oriented attitude does not stop at the front door but, rather, it is intended to filter out into the community through simple, kind, everyday assistance to the community. If someone walks into the Brilla main office inquiring about high school enrollment, Brilla will not turn them away empty handed. Though Brilla does not currently have a high school, Ops staff will assist the parent in finding the best fit for their child. “Our school’s mentality is to support and we try to be connectors.”

I started working with local organizations to figure out how we can partner and join forces and together, we ask, ‘How can we be well-rounded in what we are doing for the community?’

In the near and distant future, Mrs. Claudio sees herself involved at Brilla because she is very committed. There is a vision in her mind for Brilla in the South Bronx and she is “pumped and motivated” as the NDOO. She has dreams that Brilla’s culture of joy and support will spill over into the community. She said, “I started working with local organizations to figure out how we can partner and join forces, and together, we ask, ‘How can we be well-rounded in what we are doing for the community?'” 

Brilla launched the Bronx Educated Campaign on March 8th in which we will partner with Bronx Native, Empanology, Motley’s Kitchen and many more local businesses to join forces in the Bronx. Stay tuned for more details to come!


Mrs. Claudio’s Fun Fact

“My fun fact is that I have a passion for the arts and have always enjoyed writing poetry… I also have never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

Mrs. Claudio’s Shout-Outs

Ops Team

“Shout out to the Ops Team across the entire network. The Ops Team is the heart of the school and they work overtime, pumping blood into the school… and making sure all the buses are running and nothing stops. Ops does not skip a beat.”

Seton Teaching Fellows

“Shout out to our Seton Teaching Fellows because the work they do is unparalleled. Giving a year of service to commit to something bigger than you…. you can’t thank someone enough for doing that!”

Ms. Christina Babu

“Shout out to Ms. Christina Babu, my son’s kindergarten teacher, because she has developed a strong relationship with my son and has met every expectation to build a strong relationship with him…. You have to earn that, he does not just give away love and he is obsessed with her. Ms. Babu has done her job with so much grace!”


About the Author: Isabel Peñafiel

Isabel is the Special Projects Manager for Brilla Schools Network in the South Bronx. She assists the Executive Director in establishing systems and processes for Brilla’s external communications and fundraising platforms, among other things. Isabel is working on completing her Applied Research Project for her Master of Arts in Integral Economic Development Policy from the Catholic University of America, and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biology at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is happily married and hopes to start a family of her own very soon.

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