One of Savion Castro’s favorite memories from attending La Follette was when he broke a hurdle in half during track practice. Not only was it considered a stepping stone in his running career, but for him, it was also symbolic of running through life boldly.
Castro attended La Follette from 2009-2013. More recently, at only 24-years old, Castro was appointed to the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education, to replace the spot of former board president Mary Burke. He ran against nearly 30 other applicants for the position. For the first time in MMSD history, there are now two African American board members, and the majority of the board is made up of people of color. Now Castro continues to give back to the community that raised him. La Follette played a big role in getting him to where he is today.
For his first two years at LHS he was committed to football, basketball, and track. During the following years of high school, he switched gears and dedicated his time to Model United Nations and debate club. These extracurriculars taught him how to create an argument, got him more comfortable with public speaking, and showed him the importance of research, all of which he still uses to this day.
In high school he especially enjoyed his English and math classes. “He was always very friendly and had a good sense of humor, but he also had a seriousness about him as a student. I remember him being a really good student and very interested in politics, even back then,” Andrew McCuaig, his LHS creative writing teacher, recalled.
While growing up, Castro gained a special connection with language because of intensive speech and language therapy classes he had to take as a kid for an hour every day due to a stutter. “There were times when I didn’t feel comfortable speaking, but I did feel comfortable writing,” Castro said.
During his senior year of high school, Castro had an internship where he worked on Obama’s re-election campaign. Through this experience he found a passion for being engaged in a democratic process, which made his education feel much more purposeful in college. “In times of trial and error, it was my North Star,” Castro suggested.
After graduating from La Follette, Castro attended UW Madison and majored in sociology. He was in the PEOPLE Program and wanted to stay close to home and family. When thinking about college, he has a lot of advice for LHS students. “Keep your options open and give yourself flexibility because you might want to change gears in two or three years from now. Be kind to yourself because there's going to be trial and error. Give yourself that room to figure out what you like and don't like. Take risks,” Castro said.
Now he is doing some very impressive things. Serving on the school board, he spends a lot of time meeting with students and staff in schools to get on the ground insights on how various policies and initiatives are going. “The most exciting part is being able to help young people find their democratic voice and identity, and help the community that they are being educated in, which will always be a passion of mine,” Castro said.
Castro is very enthusiastic about advocating for the capitol referendum that would renovate all four comprehensive high schools. He hopes to see our school’s spaces modernized, as neighboring school districts have already done in the past. He can’t stress enough how important it is that we invest in Madison schools.
Working on the school board takes up about 15-20 hours a week, and when he isn’t doing that, he has an additional full time job working at the state Capitol for a lawmaker.
It hasn’t always been an easy road getting to this very successful point in his career. An obstacle he had getting to where he is today is growing up with a mother who was going through adversity, such as sickness and not always having a job. He grew up having to move a lot because of housing insecurity. Having LHS staff keeping him focused and giving support helped him persevere. “They were there telling me that the emotions I was feeling were valid, and how to channel those emotions into something productive, and to keep my eye on the bigger picture,” Castro said. He explained that nobody should be afraid to ask for help, and for support in setting goals and making a plan to achieve them.
In the coming years Castro hopes to serve two terms on the school board, pass the referendum, improve the district’s Restorative Justice program, and improve education outcomes for low income students and students of color.
“It’s easy to do this job in a boardroom and think of the issues students are facing as an abstraction, but I always like to keep myself grounded in the tangible real world experience students are facing,” Castro explained. He will also be using his position as one of the liaisons of Student Senate to hear student voices and opinions, and encourages Lancers to join this group.
“Now is the time to be bold and take risks. If you’re not uncomfortable then you're not learning. Find a personal purpose in your education that can give you a reason to come to La Follette every day,” Castro said.
Many are excited to see where his career takes him, for this is only the beginning.