Meet Your Coach... Marilla Argüelles

Marilla Arguelles

Welcome to my bio page. This is where you can learn how my full but challenging life as a teacher, artist, and activist, taught me a lot (good and bad) about education, the current medical profession, and nonprofit management. Having navigated uncharted waters for so many projects I know firsthand how exhausted and isolated teachers can feel, especially when faced with a lack of resources, and administrators who prioritize test scores over student satisfaction, involvement, and achievement.

Our family moved to California in 1978 so our ten-year old son could recover from a sudden, devastating brain virus. But although he got the operation he was denied in New York, the medical profession knew almost nothing about brain rehabilitation back then.

After five years of searching for a language based program that taught more than daily living skills, I founded Consensus, a grassroots agency for brain injury survivors. This became the first nonprofit head injury program in California to receive Adult School funding, and soon it became a model for other non-profit educational rehabilitation programs, providing consultations, referrals and direct services to clients and families recovering from traumatic brain injury and stroke. Our successes were duly noted by medical professionals who swiftly created private, short-lived, residential models at triple the cost. This period taught me many difficult lessons:

  • The importance of finding allies who will believe in you even when you despair.
  • How to persist even when you don’t have answers and funding.
  • And perhaps most importantly, to beware of assumptions. It’s not enough for your staff and colleagues to champion the same cause, you must agree on the definition of success.

For more than 20 years Consensus remained unique among rehabilitation programs for using Critical Thinking Skills Classes, computer training, remedial academics, and community resources to redefine success, not merely to produce wages. 

In 1998 we realized that our clients' greatest challenge was social isolation, and broadened our mission to include disadvantaged and learning disabled teens, providing computer hardware, media production, and community service training to public high school students. This allowed us to forge alliances with others using climate change and social inequities as fulcrums to “changing everything.”

The center has now closed but my new project, A WholeNewTake, continutes to give high school teachers and community groups access to our student-created films anywhere there's internet service. Plus it provides stimulating, provocative, timely content on current major problems to even more students with poor reading skills.

Our Webinars and library of progressive and provocative films support teachers and students who ask hard questions:

  • What is the goal of education? To provide corporations with compliant work crews, or to teach citizens how to select and evaluate their leaders?
  • Should we have leaders?
  • And what is the goal of work? as DuBois asked back in 1953.
  • To make people economically self-sufficient, to create “growth” i.e. corporate profits, to produce ever increasing piles of stuff, or is it to serve the needs of society?
  • Who decides what these needs are?

We're especially interested in spotlighting brave and creative public school teachers who are already succeeding in challenging and surpassing the Common Core and STEM Education by developing community based service-learning projects. These include job training combined with life skills and continuing education.  

This network is growing daily. With looming threats of budget cuts and private school vouchers, it’s more vital than ever. You can join this movement! Register on our Welcome page and sign up for your Free Report on 5 Strategies That Guarantee Student Success!