Katy Caballero admits she misses school.
She misses the routine. She misses her friends. She misses San Marcos High School.
But, despite being cooped up at home with her little brother, mom and dad, Katy isn’t taking this whole stay-at-home mandate sitting down.
She’s finding brand-new ways of staying busy — thanks to Girls Rock Santa Barbara.
But instead of being a student, the 15-year-old has become a teacher — well, teacher’s assistant.
Girls Rock SB has established an extensive online curriculum in the matter of days, going live with classes within 24 hours of Santa Barbara Unified School District shutting down due to COVID-19.
Classes range from knitting to making a demo with your garage band to creative writing.
And then there is “Recording and Releasing Music Singles” — something that Katy and her longtime coach and friend, Erin Pearson, know plenty about.
So when Ms. Pearson was approached about teaching the class by Girls Rock SB Executive Director Jen Baron, she naturally wanted Katy along for the ride.
“Nothing gives me more joy than to see our students come back to become mentors, even while they are in the program,” Ms. Baron said.
Ms. Pearson was all-in from the get go, knowing that there is a current void in youngsters’ lives — and something Girls Rock SB is doing at zero cost to the student, with just a suggested $5 or $10 donation directly to the instructor, if the family can handle that at these difficult economic times.
More than 1,000 students have already participated.
“Jen was trying to throw something together to keep people motivated, give them something to do, to give the girls some stability,” Ms. Pearson said. “I’m all about keeping them engaged.”
Ms. Pearson and Katy hosted their first of three classes on Friday, something that the duo spent a week preparing for.
“I knew that teachers in general had to get ready with lesson plans, but didn’t realize how much goes into nailing it down every day,” Katy said. “And, we had a time restriction, so we had to make sure we split everything up evenly and not go over time. I have a new respect for what teachers go through.”
The class is close to the hearts of both Ms. Pearson and Katy, as their relationship and friendship was built upon 8-year-old Katy’s big aspirations as a singer.
Ms. Pearson remembers asking Katy what type of artist she wanted to be and how she would define success.
“She told me that she would write a song, record it and then have her mom put it on her social media, and people would buy it,” Ms. Pearson remembered.
Fast forward six years, and avenues such as iTunes and Spotify have made it much easier for artists to self-publish music that they’ve produced themselves.
Katy is one of those, recently releasing her fourth single on iTunes called “Too Young,” following earlier songs such as “Good Enough For Me,” “Not Not A Love Song” and “Unlovable.”
“So many artists are intimidated by the process, Katy never has been, she knows what she wants,” Ms. Pearson said.
On Friday, Katy said she “felt like a professional,” and not because one of her songs has reached the top of the charts, but because her experiences over time gave her a chance to be a sounding board for nine girls that wanted to be empowered.
“I wasn’t the one asking the questions this time around, I got to answer them, and that was really cool,” Katy said. “I was so used to being the person that just sat back and listened, this time I had to listen to what they wanted to know.”
Ms. Pearson is so confident in Katy’s ability to tell her story that the final class on April 10 will be led by the teenager.
If playing music on her own doesn’t pan out, Katy says that teaching music is a great fall-back plan — allowing her to empower generations to come, something she has learned a lot about over seven years in the Girls Rock program.
“I can’t think of anything better but than to give back,” Katy said.
That’s a lesson worth 40 minutes of your time on a Friday afternoon.