In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and Secretary Duncan’s visit to South Texas, today we are highlighting IDEA Public Schools, a Texas-based Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) grantee that’s been recognized for helping Latinos, particularly English language learners, make strong achievement gains. Just last month, the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics named IDEA a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education.
In 2012, IDEA won a Race to the Top – District (RTT–D) award aimed at personalizing student learning and closing achievement gaps. IDEA is also a past recipient of an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant and grants from OII’s Charter Schools Program. IDEA’s network serves approximately 24,000 students in 44 public charter schools across Texas. More than 90 percent are Hispanic, and a third are still acquiring English speaking, reading, and writing skills.
For nine consecutive years, 100 percent of IDEA’s graduating seniors have been accepted to college, and achievement scores have consistently been above the state’s average. We checked in with Tricia Lopez, IDEA’s Director of Special Programs, about what’s behind the network’s success and how the RTT–D grant has been helping the network meet its goals.
Author and illustrator Patricia Polacco speaks to IDEA Public Schools students in Texas’ Mid-Valley.
Meeting Local Needs and Personalizing Learning
The 2012 RTT–D grant came during a critical period for the network. Around that time, IDEA was experiencing increased demand for its schools, particularly from students with limited English proficiency, according to Lopez. “The grant came at an important time, and it helped us to really step back and think strategically about how we were serving this population,” she said.
To help their English language learners, IDEA educators and leaders have created personalized learning experiences that differentiate instruction for each English language learner. IDEA uses adaptive technology designed for kids learning English and assesses their individual reading, writing, and speaking skills and helps them improve at the appropriate pace.
“This differentiation is critical. I could have 50 English language learners in a grade. They can range from having not one word of English to being pretty far along in terms of their language acquisition, but not quite fluent. It only makes sense to vary their instruction, but that doesn’t always happen in schools,” Lopez said.
The RTT–D grant has also helped IDEA with teacher training, particularly making sure educators have the tools and background they need to close gaps between English language learners and their peers. The grant has helped pay for teachers across grades to receive in-person and online training in “sheltered instruction,” which gives general education classroom teachers specific training in working with students still acquiring English language skills to access grade-level content.
“It touches on things like: what kind of materials you should have in your classroom; what kind of strategies you should use for math; the value of word walls; having more frequent checks for understanding; and giving students more time to answer questions,” Lopez said. “These are common sense but not necessarily intuitive, especially for teachers early in their careers. It has to be on your radar, and the training helps with that.”
These efforts are paying off. Scores on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) for ELL students rose by double digits over the past two years, faster growth than for any other subgroup of students in the network. As it continues to progress, IDEA is proving that when given the right supports, all students—no matter their background or first language—can learn and succeed.
Por: Marco Davis, Director Adjunto de la Iniciativa de la Casa Blanca sobre la Excelencia Educativa para los Hispanos y Michael Smith, Asistente Especial al Presidente y Director Jefe de Asuntos del Gabinete para El guardián de mi hermano (My Brother’s Keeper)
El 28 de septiembre, en honor del Mes de la Herencia Hispana, la Casa Blanca mostró la versión en español del documental de Discovery “Rise: the Promise of My Brother’s Keeper”, que se presentó este mes en el canal Discovery en Español como “El guardián de mi Hermano” (My Brother’s Keeper). El documental lleva a los espectadores en un viaje inspirador por cuatro de los miles de programas de todo el país que son testigo de los principios de la iniciativa de El Guardián de mi Hermano (MBK, por sus siglas en inglés), la llamada de acción del Presidente Obama a la nación para hacer frente a las lagunas de oportunidad que siguen existiendo para los chicos y jóvenes de minorías y garantizar que todas las personas jóvenes puedan alcanzar su máximo potencial.
Después de la proyección, Enrique Santos, celebridad de televisión y radio, presidió en un panel de debate sobre el impacto de MBK en los jóvenes hispanos, y del papel importante que cumple este programa para ayudar a la gente joven en comunidades desatendidas. Junto a Santos se encontraba la concejal de Phoenix, Arizona, Kate Gallego, el Reverendo Gabriel Salgado, el líder de YouthBuild Brandon Menjares, Melanca Clark, Jefe de Gabinete de la Oficina de Servicios Policiales Enfocados en la Comunidad del Departamento de Justicia, y Michael Smith, el Director Jefe de Asuntos del Gabinete de la Casa Blanca para El Guardián de mi Hermano.
Brandon Menjares habló sobre su lucha personal como joven de minorías, que fue adoptado como recién nacido por una familia puertorriqueña y que trágicamente perdió a ambos padres adoptivos al llegar a la adolescencia. Sin esperanzas ni mucha ayuda de nadie, Brandon dejó la escuela y se vio en caída libre, víctima de su entorno violento y con un sentimiento paralizante de abandono. Brandon hace referencia a YouthBuild como “un cambio rotundo”, y gracias a su apoyo consiguió obtener su diploma de la escuela secundaria y terminar el colegio comunitario. Brandon ahora goza de un empleo fijo y hace charlas motivadoras para miles de jóvenes del país. Es un gran ejemplo de cómo con los recursos y oportunidades adecuados, cualquier persona joven puede superar sus circunstancias y convertirse en un miembro valioso de la sociedad.
El panel ofreció un debate animado sobre los retos a los que se enfrenta la juventud hispana y de cómo el gobierno federal puede colaborar con gobiernos estatales y locales, organizaciones privadas, académicos y la policía para fomentar la misión de MBK. El Reverendo Salguero puso énfasis en la importancia de dialogar con la comunidad religiosa para crear lugares seguros para los jóvenes en riesgo, o como describió el Reverendo Salguero, los jóvenes “en promesa”, y ofrecerles alternativas viables para salir de la pobreza y la violencia que les den la fuerza para embarcarse en un viaje de éxito. La Concejal Gallego habló sobre porqué Phoenix aceptó el reto comunitario de MBK del Presidente y cómo está trabajando con el alcalde para emplear las asociaciones locales y federales para ofrecer oportunidades para todos los jóvenes de Phoenix.
Según la Oficina del Censo de EE.UU., los chicos y hombres jóvenes de origen hispano son el grupo más grande y más jóven de todos los jóvenes de minorías, con aproximadamente 7.3 millones de varones hispanos entre las edades de 10 y 24. No obstante, aún existen lagunas de desempeño importantes en algunas áreas clave. El Departamento de Educación de EE.UU. encontró que las tasas de graduación para los varones hispanos inscritos en la universidad por primera vez a tiempo completo en instituciones de 4 años y cursando licenciaturas eran mucho más bajas que las de varones blancos; un 46 % frente a un 69 %.
Desde que el Presidente lanzó El Guardián de mi Hermano en febrero de 2014, más de 200 comunidades han aceptado el reto comunitario de El Guardián de mi Hermano; un gran número de corporaciones y fundaciones se han comprometido a invertir más de $500 millones para empujar los objetivos de El Guardián de mi Hermano; y la Fuerza de Trabajo de MBK ha anunciado docenas de iniciativas de políticas nuevas, programas de becas y asesoramiento. Todo ello para ayudar a expandir las oportunidades para nuestros hijos y garantizar que sepan que son importantes.
El Guardián de mi Hermano y las miles de organizaciones basadas en la evidencia que trabajan para expandir las oportunidades para nuestros hijos, son de vital importancia para el bienestar de millones de jóvenes marginados y desconectados, que incluye a chicos y jóvenes de minorías. Todos se merecen una segunda oportunidad y lo único que separa a estos jóvenes de sus pares es la oportunidad: El guardián de mi hermano y sus aliados se comprometen a cerrar las lagunas y asegurar que Estados Unidos continúe siendo un lugar donde cualquiera puede triunfar si lo intenta.
Para más información sobre cómo puede participar, puede visitar wh.gov/mybrotherskeeper
A Fighting Chance for All – Why My Brother’s Keeper is Crucial for Hispanic Youth
By: Marco Davis, Deputy Director of the WH Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and Michael Smith, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother’s Keeper
On September 28, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the White House screened the Spanish-language version of Discovery’s documentary “Rise: the Promise of My Brother’s Keeper,” which was released earlier this month on Discovery en Español as “El Guardián de mi Hermano” (My Brother’s Keeper). The film takes viewers on an inspiring journey into four of the thousands of programs around the country that are living the principles of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative — President Obama’s call to the nation to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
After the screening, TV/Radio personality Enrique Santos hosted a panel discussion on the impact of MBK for Hispanic youth, and the important role this effort plays to assist young people in underserved communities. Joining Santos were Phoenix, AZ Councilwoman Kate Gallego, Reverend Gabriel Salgado, YouthBuild leader Brandon Menjares, Melanca Clark, Chief of Staff for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at DOJ, and Michael Smith, White House Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother’s Keeper.
Brandon Menjares spoke on his personal struggles as a young man of color – being adopted by a Puerto Rican family as a newborn, and tragically losing both of his adoptive parents by the time he was teenager. Hopeless and without much guidance, Brandon dropped out of school and found himself in a downward spiral – a victim of his violent surroundings and with a paralyzing feeling of abandonment. Brandon attributes YouthBuild as being “life changing,” and through their support was able to obtain his GED and complete community college. Today, Brandon is gainfully employed and serves as a motivational speaker to thousands of young people across the nation, and is a proud example that with the right resources and opportunities, any young person can overcome their circumstances and become a valuable member of society.
The panel offered a lively discussion on the challenges faced by Hispanic youth, and how the federal government can work with state and local governments, private organizations, academia and law enforcement to further MBK’s mission. Rev. Salguero emphasized the importance of engaging the faith community to create safe spaces for at-risk youth – or as Reverend Salguero described “at-promise” youth, offer them viable alternatives that lifts them from poverty and violence, and empowers them to embark in a journey of success. Councilwoman Gallego spoke about why Phoenix took on the President’s MBK community challenge and how she is working with the mayor to leverage local and federal partnerships to provide opportunities for all youth in Phoenix.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic boys and young men are the largest, youngest group of all young men of color, with an estimated 7.3 million Hispanic males between ages of 10 and 24. However, there are still significant performance gaps in key areas. The U.S. Dept. of Education found that graduation rates for Hispanic males attending college for the first time, on a full-time basis at a 4-year institution, and seeking bachelor’s degrees were substantially lower than for white males – 46% versus 69%.
Since the President launched My Brother’s Keeper in February 2014, more than 200 Communities have accepted the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge; scores of corporations and foundations have committed to invest more than $500 million to advance the goals of My Brother’s Keeper; and the MBK Task Force has announced dozens of new policy initiatives, grant programs and guidance – all working to expand opportunity for our kids and ensure they know they matter.
My Brother’s Keeper, and the thousands of evidence-based organizations working to expand opportunity for our kids, are critical to the wellbeing of millions of marginalized and disconnected young people, including boys and young men of color. Everybody deserves a second a chance, and the only thing that separates these youth from their peers is opportunity: My Brother’s Keeper and its allies are committed to bridging that gap and making sure America remains a place where you can make it if you try.
For more information on how you can be involved, please visit wh.gov/mybrotherskeeper.
Pearl Arredondo is a National Board Certified Teacher of sixth-grade English and History. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Psychology as well as a Master of Arts in Education and Instructional Leadership from Pepperdine University. In 2010, she was part of a teacher-led team that founded San Fernando Institute for Applied Media (SFiAM), the first pilot middle school established in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She taught for 10 years before becoming the instructional specialist and now principal of SFiAM. Pearl is passionate about increasing student access to technology and closing the digital divide. She is featured in People Magazine’s My American Dream: Great Success Against All Odds campaign sponsored by Milk Life. She was also featured on TED Talks Education and is a frequent speaker and panelist related to those key issues. As a Teach Plus Policy Fellow, she met with President Obama’s senior advisors to discuss teacher tenure and elevating the teaching profession. As part of Educators for Excellence, she helped write a series of recommendations entitled Reimagining Tenure: Protecting Our Students and Our Profession. In 2014, she received the “Inspirational Teacher Award” from United Way of Greater Los Angeles, was named California Woman of the Year from California Assembly District 39, and was honored at the Ford Theatre’s Annual Gala for being an inspirational teacher. Pearl is a tireless advocate for public education and technology-based curriculum. She is also a role model for young Latinas seeking to make a difference in their communities. Her goal is to make SFiAM a model of educational reform by preparing all students to be effective communicators in the 21st century.
Why do you teach? I teach because my life trajectory was changed by teachers at a very young age. It took one teacher to say I would never make it and another to say I would. Since then, I realized that everyone could use support and I wanted to be that person. I knew that I wanted to help others achieve greatness, especially when all the odds were against them.
What do you love about teaching? What I love about teaching is that every day is a new opportunity to start fresh. It provides a backdrop for continuous progress, no matter how slow. On the days that students look frustrated or ready to give up, I switch gears and remind them that nothing worth doing will ever be easy. I love it the most when they believe me and continue to push through.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? As a fifth grade student in Ms. Hirschkoff’s class, I learned that I could be unstoppable. She challenged me to look beyond my circumstances and pursue education as means of upward mobility. She believed that I could compete with the best students. She caused me to believe in myself. As I decided upon a career, I thought about how she impacted my life and knew that I wanted to do the same for others.
Omar Araiza teaches 5th grade at the Robert F. Kennedy Community School’s New Open World (NOW) Academy in the underserved community of Koreatown in Los Angeles. He was a LA Unified School District student throughout his K-12 education and now is a teacher in the same system that schooled him. He will be entering his 10th year of teaching. He grew up in Los Angeles in the predominantly Latino immigrant community of Boyle Heights. He attended University of California, Los Angeles for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with minors in Chicana/o Studies, education, and public policy in 2001. He received his teaching credential and master’s of education in 2007, and his administrative credential and master’s of education in 2012. He has served as grade level lead and GATE Coordinator at his school. He has been a mentor teacher to beginning teachers that are pursuing their preliminary credential. He has received the Perfect Attendance award due to zero absences. He will begin working on my National Board certification.
Why do you teach? I teach because someone taught me and now it’s my turn to give back. I teach because I want to make dreams come true for families that share my same ethnic and cultural background. I teach because I feel it is my responsibility to get my students ready to enact their goals. I can see myself teaching for the next 30 years!
What do you love about teaching? There are many things I love about teaching. I love working with students and helping them achieve new levels of learning. I enjoy teaching my students new material that captivates their interests. I love exposing my students to learning that will be relevant to their lives, which will allow them to become informed, critical thinking citizens of our world.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? I never stopped being a student. Lifelong learning is a quality I want to instill in my students. One of my college professors inspired me to think this way. I never thought of myself as a learner, but only as a provider of knowledge until my professor said that she herself was a lifelong learner. She also said that she learned from us, her students. That led me to think that I can learn from my students too. She has inspired me to continue learning and to pass this love of lifelong learning to my students. She has inspired me to look for professional development opportunities and readings that not only will enrich my craft but that are relevant to my students’ needs.
Coming from a family who has instilled the notion that she could achieve anything in life if she worked hard contributed to the person she is today. Nancy Ballesteros parents taught her that with dedication and determination your dreams will become a reality. At times, obstacles hindered her success and made it extremely difficult for her to continue with her goals. During her elementary and high school years she struggled with the academic content due to a language barrier. However, she did not let this prevent her from achieving her goals. She graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education on December 17, 2011.
Teaching has always been her dream. Nancy is currently in her fourth year of teaching for the Chicago Public Schools. She has been working as an 8th grade Language Arts teacher at Madero Middle school in the Southwest of Chicago. As a teacher, she actively pursues professional development opportunities. She has worked closely with her administrator and tenured teachers conducting observations, setting goals, and reflecting on her professional practice. It is her sincerest desire to become a highly effective teacher and to profoundly impact the lives of her students.
Because of her personal struggles acquiring academic English proficiency, she had a special desire to teach and advocate for young people who are English Language Learners. She is currently enrolled in the ESL endorsement courses at the University of Illinois Chicago campus to strengthen her skills in this area.
She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in the Educational Studies concentration within the MEd Instructional Leadership program with an emphasis in English as a Second Language in order to be a more efficacious public educator. She wishes to not only be more adaptive to the learning needs of her students, but also to broaden her appreciation of and sensitivity to cultural differences. She wants to improve her ability to assess, plan, and deliver instruction in a manner that is pedagogically sound and addresses the needs of diverse learners. It is her belief that her graduate courses at University of Illinois Chicago will have a lasting impact on the youth she teaches.
Why do you teach? I have always wanted to become a teacher since I could remember. I teach because I know that a teacher’s influence can impact a child’s life and a make a difference. I provide an important influence that helps my students make the right decisions, even when they are not in my classroom.
I believe my role as an educator is to be a guide for students as they develop as independent, curious learners. I help students discover topics and activities that interest them and can inspire them to want to learn for its own intrinsic value. I promote acceptance and appreciation of diversity as a teacher. My classroom is a place where different ideas, interests, personalities, and cultures are all accepted and celebrated. As an educator, I must take a genuine interest in the individual students that I serve. I treat them with unconditional regard and always am happy to see them. I scaffold responsibilities in a way that guides students in developing self-discipline and self-monitoring skills. I am an advocate for students’ needs and empower young people to advocate for themselves.
What do you love about teaching? I truly love to see my students learn while exposing them to a high level of education just like other students in prestigious neighborhoods. I love to see them enthusiastic as they enter my classroom every single day. I also love to see them grow physically, mentally, and socio-emotionally from the start of the school year to the end.
Micaela Barnes has been in education for about 18 years in a variety of positions. She began as a secretary, moved up to a paraeducator, and after completing her degree, she became a teacher. She has not taught for 10 years.
When she began teaching, she taught Math at Chase Middle School. She was in her element with Spanish speaking students and students who were on their way to giving up on school. While most teachers gave incentives of jolly ranchers or tootsie rolls, she would give out Gansitos for a week’s worth of homework completion. In return, her students nicknamed her Gansito! She began to notice that her students weren’t reading and comprehending word problems. She went back to school and received her Masters in Education with an emphasis in Reading Specialist. She is now teaching Language Arts.
One year, she had a group of mainstreaming ELL students and was lucky enough to teach dual language with a co-teacher. She has been a reviewer for West-Ed and the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation. In this area, she volunteered to review items for the Kansas State Assessment in both general education and special education. She has presented workshops in her building on Interactive Notebooks, Running Records with Miscue Analysis, and is the building representative for the local NEA.
Why do you teach? I know what it is like to be a struggling learner. I enjoy seeing students find their confidence and continue to grow.
What do you love about teaching? I love seeing my students enjoy reading; it might be them reading aloud in a variety of voices, going outside and laying on the grass, or putting on silly hats (they originally thought were baby-ish) so they can read.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? Gilberto R. Chabarria inspired me to teach. I loved his humor and love for his subject. I remember thinking while in his 5th grade class – “I want to be just like my Papi!” Yes, my dad was my 5th grade teacher and he is the reason I became a teacher.
Martha Maitchoukow is currently a 7th and 8th grade English Magnet Teacher at Markham Middle School in Watts, California – Markham is one of sixteen PLAS – Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Her passion for English emerged when she was 8 years old as a result of living in the Venezuelan oil field camps, at the time operated by major American oil corporations where most people spoke English. She set her mind to one day speak English and she made it happen. Her parents sent her away to school in an all-girls boarding school in Canada. She learned the language (not without going through the pain and struggle of someone who comes to a country where no one speaks your native language, this later would help her better understand her students) and successfully completed high school.
She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Loyola Marymount University, got received her Masters degree from University of Phoenix and a second degree from University of San Diego, both Summa Cum Laude.
Her undeniable passion for education comes from a father who so strongly believed in literacy and writing, someone who woke her up earlier in the mornings to read, someone who believed with all his heart and soul that every child has an inalienable right to a quality education. She began her teaching career in the United States with the Azusa Unified School District where she found much needed support, not only from a group of amazing co-workers but a family; however, one day she heard about the need for teachers at underserved schools in Los Angeles. She began her quest and was blessed with the opportunity of teaching in Watts.
She was chosen as The Magnet Teacher of the Year, PLAS Outstanding Educator and City of Los Angeles award for dedication and commitment to the students.
Why do you teach? I teach because teaching is definitely ‘my calling’; teaching fills my heart and my life wearing all the different hats as a teacher, psychologist, counselor, advisor and many times a mom. It gives me so many opportunities to be a ‘life saver’ because I not only teach my students curriculum, I know I need to teach them life skills; how to build bridges not walls so that they can successfully get to their destinations. I teach because I believe in every child that walks into my classroom every year, and I know I can be an inspiration and a positive influence in their lives.
What do you love about teaching? I love everything about teaching because I believe teaching is the most enriching and rewarding profession in the world. I look forward to seeing how every day my students discover their talents and believe that indeed they are wired for greatness. I love the trust and rapport I build with them and the open channel of communication so that they can come and share with me their issues and concerns.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? I did have two teachers who impacted my life: my 3rd grade teacher because the tons of patience she had with me wanting to be the class clown, and my 9th grade teacher who led me to believe that I was a genius for math which eventually led me to become an environmental engineer.
Martha Lackey has taught a total of 24 years in first, second and now in the second and third grade bilingual. She taught in Arlington, Texas for 9 years before moving to Midlothian, Texas where she currently teaches at Vitovsky Elementary. She is the Campus Technology Liaison for her campus and is also an Edmodo Trainer and Ambassador and provides professional development to teachers on her campus and the surrounding metroplex. She currently teaches in a google district so she has lots of experience using the google tools in her classroom. She has presented at numerous Region 10 events in Dallas, Texas and has presented at TCEA in Austin, Texas which is one of the largest technology conferences in the state. She loves to attend Edcamps in the surrounding areas and has led many teacher sessions. She is big on being a connected educator so you will find her on most social media platforms such as Twitter, Google Plus, Edmodo member, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. She is currently a 1:1 iPad classroom and has several chrome books as well. I use social media to share my students’ failures and successes. This has been her big push these last few years and getting her student’s parents involved in their child’s education.
Why do I teach? I come from a family of educators on my father’s side of the family. My grandfather was a grade school teacher, several of my cousins, three to be exact, were campus administrators and coaches so it was in my blood since birth. Both my parents came from working farms and did not attend college. My dad was a barber and my mother cleaned homes near the area where we lived. But they supported education as best as they could and encouraged my brother and sister to go to college. My mom was a native Spanish speaker and my dad spoke both English and Spanish but I knew in college that I wanted to work with children in some form or fashion. My first idea came when I thought I was going to be a pediatrician but quickly changed my major as I began substituting in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth area schools while working in the evenings and going to school. It was then when my passion began for this profession. I teach because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and to let them know that they have the same opportunity.
What do I love about teaching? What is there not to love when you are inspiring children every day how to be innovative learners of the 21st century? Teaching is a very rewarding profession. Each day is different and no two days will ever be alike. It can be physically and emotionally challenging but the rewards at the end of each day are what I carry with me. Students must MATTER and you must TRUST and LOVE them like your own children. I love building relationships with my students that will last a LIFETIME of learning!! That’s what I love about teaching.
Was there a teacher that inspired me? Yes, but it wasn’t until I was in college and I was in my 3rd year of my education classes. The class was a “whole language” literature class at the University of Texas in Arlington, where I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish and the teacher assigned all students a unit on using children’s literature to teach several reading, writing and social studies objectives. She dressed up as an African tour guide to teach a geography lesson on Africa. I immediately told myself “I want to be a teacher like that”. She immersed herself in the lesson using music, literature, art, math and many other books to integrate the content across all subjects. I fell in love with that kind of teaching and knew that I could use my culture and my stories to teach children of primary grade levels. She left a lasting impression on me and how important and powerful children’s literature can be. I still think this way today but now my students have technology tools at their fingertips to add to my experience as an educator. This has been my “new” passion in teaching the last 8 years.
Please let me know how I can further help! Again thanks so much for this incredible opportunity. I have attached two photos in case one does not work.
Marisela Lopez has been in the educational system now for 20 years. She started working as a receptionist at an elementary school while working on her bachelor’s degree. She currently works for Sunset High School in Dallas, Texas as a Career and Technology Teacher and the Campus Assistant Athletic Coordinator. Her first teaching position was at her alma mater at Bel Air High School (YISD) in El Paso, Texas and then she moved to Americas High School (SISD) also in El Paso, Texas. She decided to move to Dallas, Texas 10 years ago and has taught at Thomas Jefferson High School and currently at Sunset High School. She is proud to say that her parents taught her the importance of education and a great work ethic. She has been coaching soccer for over 20 years as well. This is her love and one of the reasons why she is in the educational system today. She was awarded Dallas Soccer Coach of the Year in 2007. Marisela’s first Texas Educator Certificate was her Educational Secretary II in 1995 and in 2002, she received her Office Education Certificate. She received her Bachelor of Science in Management Computer Information Systems in 1999. In 2010, she received her Masters of Education in Educational Administration with an Emphasis in School Leadership.
Over the years, she has been in different leadership roles at her campus. She is part of the Attendance Committee Team, Principal’s Plan Coordinator, School Website Coordinator, Head Soccer Coach, Graduation Coordinator, and the Campus Assistant Athletic Coordinator. This year she received an award from our District Athletic Department as the 2015 Dallas Female Athletic Coordinator of the Year. Her dream job is one day to become the District Athletic Director since her passion is student success and athletics.
Why do you teach? I started teaching since I always wanted to be a positive female role model to teenage parents. I was a teenage parent at age 17 and not a lot of people believed that I would be able to attend college and be successful. I am the first in my family to receive both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree; my family and children are very proud of me.
What do you love about teaching? I enjoy how my students and athletes love to learn from my experiences. My students and athletes also teach me new savvy technology skills and new soccer drills. I love to see how they react when they are the teacher and I am the student. I have to say that this is my passion and why I chose this profession.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? I owe my success to two of my high school coaches, Ms. Patty Mullaney and Mr. Roger Velasquez. They both inspired me to be the amazing teacher and coach that I am today. Coach Mullaney and Coach Velasquez were the number one reason why I was hired at my alma mater. They both believed in me and never gave up on me even after I became a teenage parent. I was successful academically, athletically and professionally because of both coaches being my mentors as a student and professionally. They both taught me to inspire, build positive relationships, and pay it forward, especially to our teenage parents that may not have someone to believe in them and guide them.
Kristie Ulibarri is originally from New Mexico, but has been teaching in Dallas, Texas at North Dallas High School, for 8 years. Originally, she didn’t want to be a teacher; she wanted to do anything but teach. She knew that she wanted to help people somehow. She was convinced to give education a try and ended up loving it. She earned her BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of New Mexico in 2002. In 2004 she was awarded a MA in Secondary Education from University of New Mexico. Having such a diverse population of students made her wants to serve them better. In 2011, she decided to go back to school for a second Master’s degree in Special Education from Texas A&M-Commerce.
She always taught high school and junior high. She’s also coached track and field, and basketball. Most recently, she was a volunteer wrestling coach in which she had 3 girls advance to state, which was the first time in the history of the school. One student was the state wrestling champion for the first time in the school and district’s history. Through sports, Kristie was able to learn about her students beyond the classroom.
Kristie has a five-year-old daughter who just finished kindergarten. She has tried to instill the importance of education. She believes it is important that her daughter understand that in order to have a bright future, she has to be willing to work hard in school. She also tries to make sure that she is involved in extracurricular activities.
In her spare time, she volunteers at my church, Covenant Church in Carrollton, as a camera operator in the media department. She has volunteered for Operation Care, a program to give homeless people gifts and services during the Christmas season.
Why do you teach? I teach because it’s my way to give back to the future of tomorrow. I hope to make students see the importance of education and being a productive citizen and in turn they can do the same for someone else.
What do you love about teaching? I love teaching because I know that I’m giving back to the future. There is a child who I teach who will also make a difference and help someone else and that person will help someone and so on. It’s a circle of giving and making a difference and creating contributors of a society that they can be proud of. I love that no one day is the same. Each day in the classroom is a different adventure. It will never get boring, and at times it can be very challenging, but at the end of the day, I may have helped at least one person.
When you were a student, was there a teacher who inspired you? When I was young, I had two teachers who stick out in my mind. Ms. Rita Martinez was my 5th grade teacher; she was a strict firecracker. She taught me to be responsible and really care about the work that I do because it shouldn’t be done half way. It needs to be done fully and to my full potential. She was tough as nails and always made me do my best. She didn’t take any lip from anyone and taught me not to make excuses for not doing what I need to do.
Mr. Robert Abney was my teacher, coach, sponsor and boss in my high school years. He taught me that teachers can be humorous, nice and teach their students, while still maintaining respect. He helped me to become interested in journalism and assisted me with my confidence in my writing as a high school student.