“I’ve seen lives changed first hand. I know when the students go to Reality Changers they are receiving the guidance and tutoring they need to graduate from high school, navigate the college application process, and be successful in college. I am honored to be a small part of making this happen for so many young people.”
Since our founding in 2001, Barbara “Bobbie” Samilson has played an important role in the history of Reality Changers. Inspired by the vision of our Founder Chris Yanov, Bobbie has, and continues to be, an advocate and supporter of Reality Changers.
Bobbie is a retired educator who began her career as a substitute teacher in Selma, Alabama. Shocked by the substandard reading abilities of her students, she was inspired to go back to school and become a full-time educator. Later in her career, while working in San Diego, she was offered the opportunity to become a vice principal. Although she was initially hesitant to make the jump into school administration after 18 years in the classroom, she accepted the position when she realized that as a leader, she could help other teachers reach more children.
Bobbie first met Founder Chris Yanov while Chris was serving as a substitute teacher at Kroc Middle School, which was plagued by discipline and gang problems at the time. Chris, who was well-respected by the faculty and students, could not only control the often-unruly classrooms, but also had a knack for establishing genuine connections with students. It was at Kroc Middle School that Chris presented his idea for Reality Changers to Bobbie.
Bobbie believed in Chris and Reality Changers from the beginning. Reality Changers did not only deter children from choosing a path of gangs and violence, but it also emphasized the more prosperous and rewarding path toward college. It is a model that made sense to Bobbie, and one that continues to help students achieve their academic potential today.
In addition to Reality Changers, Bobbie is also involved with UrbanLife SD and Quench and Connect, both started locally and are positively impacting the lives of young people. UrbanLife reaches students in City Heights and Southeast San Diego. Quench and Connect reaches high school students in Uganda providing bore holes for fresh water and science tools to improve science education. Both of these organizations, like Reality Changers, come along side young people with a focus on education developing young men and women of confidence and courage ready to make a difference in the world.