Rosalita Santiago


Rosalita Santiago

First Grade Math and Spanish Language Arts Teacher

Arlington, Virginia

Rosalita Santiago has twelve years of experience in education, teaching kindergarten, first grade, seventh grade, and high school. She is a first grade Math & Spanish Language Arts teacher at Claremont Immersion School in Arlington, Virginia.Rosalita joined the community of Claremont Immersion School in 2014. She is a mentor to a first-year Latino teacher and a teacher leader for her schools pilot program Discovery Education/Digital Learning School.

Her professional experience includes being a lead mentor, a Kindergarten and World language In-service facilitator, a world language curriculum developer, and an ECO school representative. Rosalita is an active participant of her professional learning community. She loves learning as well as collaborating with her peers. She is currently working with her school ITC, Wilmarie Clark, and is starting a new coding club at her school this spring. Her goal is to increase student access and exposure to computer science education through after-school programs. Rosalita graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.A., English Secondary level. She earned an M.A., K-12 Technology Integration from Nova Southeastern University. She also obtained M.Ed., P.K.-6 Elementary Education from Marymount University.

Why do you teach?

It is fun and challenging. I enjoy working with children and providing them with opportunities for them to explore, discover, and learn independently and collaboratively through a variety of learning experiences. It is a rewarding career.

What do you love about teaching?

I love all aspects of teaching. It is a dynamic profession! It is an amazing experience to be able to not only plan, create, and deliver learning opportunities for the students, but to learn from students as they immerse themselves in the learning process.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?

In my early educational years I would have been considered a transient student. My family moved many times between Puerto Rico and New Jersey as well as within New Jersey. I cannot recall a time I felt unwelcomed as I started a new school or returned to my previous school. My teachers were always kind, respectful, and understanding. They made sure I was learning and being challenge. In addition, they also taught my mom how to support me at home in completing homework assignments. I am not able to name a specific teacher, as I was lucky to have a great support system not only at my school but at home. My mom and my older sister were always available to answer my questions and provide support as needed. It is an honor for me to say that all of the teachers that taught me and my family inspired me to be driven and a lifelong learner.

Bright Spot in Hispanic Education Google + Hangout Highlights Local Efforts on Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education for Latino Students

Posted by Jaqueline Cortez Wang, Senior Advisor, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

On March 16, 2016, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (Initiative) held its Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Google+ Hangout (Hangout) monthly session. The fourth Hangout highlighted the work of Bright Spots focused on STEM education and the Hispanic community. Melissa Moritz, Deputy Director for STEM Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, and I were joined by representatives from Bright Spots in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and Texas.  The Hangout featured promising practices and strategies helping to broaden participation of Hispanics in STEM education and related fields.

According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, between 2010 and 2020, the overall employment in STEM occupations will increase by 17%, yet Latinos are underrepresented in STEM fields and not enough are graduating with STEM degrees to match the increasing demands for these jobs. And, when it comes to accessing key math and science only 67% of Hispanic students have access to the full range. For Latinas, the underrepresentation in STEM is even greater, with only approximately 9% of Latinas obtaining a STEM-related degree at the post-secondary level [National Center for Educational Statistics, 2009]. The Bright Spots we spoke to are helping to combat these disparities through their hard work.

LNCES share their program with students in the background

In an effort to reframe the narrative suggesting the interest of Hispanic students, in particular of Hispanic girls and women, in STEM is low, we must work together to ensure access and opportunity. The Bright Spots also highlighted the importance of engaging parents, supporting educators and informing the community about the benefits of rigorous math and science courses and careers in STEM. They also stressed the need to expose students at earlier ages, starting in preschool, and to train and recruit more Latino STEM teachers who can serve as role models and can expose students further.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we also learned about efforts to increase the number of Hispanic girls and women entering STEM related fields. As a former employee working at NASA, it was especially encouraging to see Bright Spots focusing on this specifically. The Obama Administration has called for improvements in STEM education, increases in the number of STEM teachers, and additional opportunities encouraging all students, including girls and women, in science careers. Thanks to the efforts of our Bright Spots and the continued investments from the federal government, I look forward to seeing more Latinos enter and complete STEM degrees.

Jaqueline Cortez-Wang and Melissa Mortiz host the STEM Google Hangout

The next Google+ Hangout will take place on Wednesday April 20, 2016 on Latino Teacher Recruitment. We hope you will join us as we work together to move the needle on progress for Hispanic students across the nation.


Encouraging Girls in Math and Science Practice Guide

Educate to Innovate

Funding for Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Programs

Funding for HSIs and STEM Programs

Green Ribbon Schools

Bright Spots In Hispanic Education National Catalog

Civil Rights Data Collection – College and Career Readiness Snapshot


View the full engagement video here:

The 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is Here!

Cross-posted from the Let’s Move! Blog

It’s that time of year again – we’re inviting kids across the country to create healthy lunch recipes for a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C., and the opportunity to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House!

Check out a special message from First Lady Michelle Obama announcing the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge:

The First Lady is once again teaming up with PBS flagship station WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to host the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge to promote cooking and healthy eating among young people across the nation.

The challenge invites kids ages 8-12, in collaboration with a parent or guardian, to create an original recipe that is healthy, affordable, and delicious. One winner from each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia will win the opportunity to be flown to Washington, DC and the opportunity to attend the 2016 Kids’ “State Dinner” here at the White House, where a selection of the winning recipes will be served. Kids will also have the opportunity to learn from television personality and member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Rachael Ray.

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks in the East Room at the 2015 Kids’ “State Dinner.” (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks in the East Room at the 2015 Kids’ “State Dinner.” (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Check out USDA’s MyPlate to ensure your child’s recipe meets the nutrition guidelines by representing each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. In addition, in celebration of the MyPlate, MyState initiative, the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is putting a spotlight on homegrown pride across the country and encouraging entries to include local ingredients grown in your family’s state, territory, or community.

We can’t wait to see what kids create this year – so good luck and get cooking! Don’t forget to submit by April 4!

Learn more:

Kelly Miterko is Deputy Director of Let’s Move!

Socioeconomic Diversity as a School Turnaround Strategy

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom


The world that we’re preparing our kids for is diverse—our workplaces and our society reflect an enormous range of backgrounds and experiences. Succeeding in that world requires having had the experience of diversity in its many forms, particularly socioeconomic diversity. Mounting evidence shows that diversity is a clear path to better outcomes in school and in life. Exposure to other students from a wide array of backgrounds can boost empathy, reduce bias and increase group problem-solving skills. In short, it helps prepare students – regardless of their backgrounds – for the world in which they will live and work.

Socioeconomically diverse schools are especially powerful for students from low-income families, who historically have not had equal access to the resources they need to succeed. For example, in Montgomery County, Maryland, children in public housing who attended the district’s most advantaged elementary schools performed better over time than those attending higher-poverty schools, despite additional per-student funding provided at higher-poverty schools.

Given what we know about the benefits of diversity, we are interested in exploring how the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program can be used to promote voluntary, community-supported efforts to expand socioeconomic diversity in schools and improve student outcomes. These grants are awarded to states that then make competitive subgrants to school districts that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to raising student achievement in their lowest-performing schools.


Join the conversation

We welcome your input on how we can support school districts or consortia of districts, with support from their states and local communities, to use SIG funds to implement socioeconomic diversity strategies.

We are interested in your thoughts on the use of SIG funds, including your views on the following:

  1. The use of SIG funds to support district-wide socioeconomic diversity strategies aimed at increasing academic outcomes for students in lowest performing schools.
  1. Current SIG requirements for states and districts that may restrict the use SIG funds to increase the socioeconomic diversity of schools, if any.
  2. Other policies or conditions (e.g., high concentrations of students in poverty, strong community and stakeholder engagement, written assurances from effected districts and schools) that need to be in place for districts to successfully implement a comprehensive socioeconomic diversity plan that increase academic outcomes for students in its lowest performing schools.
  1. Methods and measures states and districts could use to demonstrate progress in implementing a comprehensive socioeconomic diversity plan.

We welcome your input until April 12. If you have any comments please send them via email to

Free Consumer Protection Tools for Educators and Students

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education blog

A guest blog by Cristina Miranda, Division of Consumer and Business Education, Federal Trade Commission 

April is Financial Literacy Month! Find free tools to help students understand consumer protection basics – including financial literacy – in plain and simple language at in English and in Spanish. This free educational website from the Federal Trade Commission can help students learn how to avoid scams, manage their money, use credit and loans carefully, and protect their personal information.

Federal Trade Commission

Federal Trade Commission

The site is easy to use, easy to navigate, and accessible to people with different learning preferences and literacy levels. Educators can access free articles, videos, and worksheets about managing money, – including making a budget; credit, loans, and debt, how to get and fix credit; and avoiding scams and identity theft. Other tools include presentations, and lesson plans (arriving Spring 2016). You can also hear content read aloud; just click the “listen” button next to each article in either English or Spanish.

It’s easy — and free — to use and share and information. Everything is in the public domain and there are no copyright limits. Users can download copies to hand out, link to a page or copy text into a newsletter.

Request printed copies of the and materials as a sample pack, including all topics in English and Spanish, or in tear-off pads of 50 for each topic. Students can refer to these one-page flyers when making financial decisions, or complete the Making a Budget worksheet to make their own monthly budget. Copies may be ordered from (unlimited quantities) and the FTC will ship them for free.

Both and are featured resources in the LINCS Learner Center, which connects adult learners to freely availalbe learning sites.

Students Share College Completion Journeys

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom

Students from a variety of socio-economic and racial backgrounds discussed the idea of belonging during this Student Voices Session. (Joshua Hoover/U.S. Department of Education)

Students from a variety of socio-economic and racial backgrounds discussed the idea of belonging during this Student Voices Session. (Joshua Hoover/U.S. Department of Education)

“If you feel like you belong, you can achieve anything.”

This was the overarching sentiment expressed by many students during the latest Student Voices session, which focused on college completion at Minority Serving Institutions.

Both Secretary John King and Under Secretary Ted Mitchell were on hand to listen and engage students from a variety of socio-economic and racial backgrounds around the idea of belonging.

Many students present expressed a concern about the general lack of support from school counselors and said this made them feel as though they didn’t belong at college.

Other students said it was one unique relationship – whether with a teacher or professor – that enabled them to attend and complete college because this individual took the time to listen, work alongside them and help them navigate the system.

One Native student said she felt misunderstood and taken advantage of because her high school counselor took it for granted that she would be able to fill out the online FAFSA application without realizing that she lacked access to resources such as wi-fi.

As a DACA student myself at this session, I recalled how college personnel sent me to one office after another with disjointed pieces of advice when I was attempting to find resources to pay my tuition.

Hearing these concerns about the need to improve school and college advising, Secretary King emphasized how the Department of Education is trying to share best practices with universities to better support undocumented students. He also said that ED is attempting to increase funding to prepare more school counselors.

Evan Sanchez, another undergraduate at the session, explained that he thinks college personnel should alter their advising schedules to better meet the needs of working or non-traditional students who are juggling multiple responsibilities.

Joanna DeJesus, a CUNY Macaulay Honors College student, recommended more purposeful communication across departments so that students do not receive conflicting advice.

Finally, the students agreed on the importance of universities to exert greater efforts in aiding students beyond college, such as assisting with job placements and providing financial literacy guidance.

The session itself, which was only supposed to last 30 minutes, continued for more than an hour. The fact that Secretary King stayed to listen to everyone’s stories demonstrated how much he valued our perspectives and diverse experiences. It is not everyday that there are Native, Asian-origin undocumented, Black, and Latina and Latino students engaging in the same conversation.

I think it’s important to recognize that educational policy decisions cannot be made without student input since it directly affects us. Secretary King ensured that our voices were not only heard, but that we felt like belonged in such a space to be able to share our personal journeys and recommendations.

Syeda Raza is an E3! Ambassador at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

This session was a part of the ongoing “Student Voices” series at the Department through which students engage with senior staff members to help develop recommendations on current and future education programs and policies.

Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Google + Hangout Highlights Local Efforts on Family Engagement for Latino Students

On February 17, 2016, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (Initiative) held its third Google Hangout to highlight the tremendous efforts of Bright Spots focused on family engagement with Latino communities across the country. Marco Davis, Deputy Director at the Initiative and I were joined by representatives from Bright Spots Briya PCS, School Smarts Parent Engagement Program – California PTA, Changing Suburbs Institute, Gateway Technical College, Leadership Scholars, Parents Step Ahead – Padres Un Paso Adelante, Pharr-San Juan Alamo Independent School District  and Rise Colorado. The Hangout, held in Spanish, was a dynamic and informative discussion on how we can harness the power of engaging parents and familia to help support student achievement.

Marco Davis and Maria Pastrana Lujan lead the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Google + Hangout on Family Engagement on February 17, 2016.

Marco Davis and Maria Pastrana Lujan lead the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Google + Hangout on Family Engagement on February 17, 2016.

“Queremos que todos nuestros niños empiecen a pensar en colegio desde que nacen, nunca es muy temprano para pensar de que nuestros niños van a tener el sueño americano de los padres. Como se dice, nosotros los padres recibimos el golpe, los niños son los que van a recibir el fruto del sueño americano.” – parent, Changing Suburbs Institute

The Bright Spots discussed the need and importance of engaging families in their child’s education through two-way communication between educators and families – particularly helpful, they collectively said, was communicating in the families’ native language. Also important – to engage families in academic activities during, before, and after school, and to rethink the definition of family to include grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, and cousins.  By including the whole family, we create stronger lines of communication.  Bright Spots stressed that families want to feel honored, respected, and empowered to serve as advocates for their children.  This can be done by creating a school culture of inclusion, which would allow families to be partners and contributors in developing activities in school.  By encouraging families to be a part of the process, we build up their social capital so they feel that they too, feel like they have a voice and are an active part of their children’s success.

Family engagement has been shown to increase a student’s academic performance as well as improve the schools they attend (National Education Association). Before we can create meaningful parent involvement and family literacy opportunities, we need to decrease barriers. Some of these barriers include identifying eligible youth for preschool and early learning programs, connecting with non-English speakers, building connections with the community, and ensuring that Latino families are knowledgeable about eligibility for various programs. By engaging Latino families in the education of their children, we deter Latino students from dropping out and foster their educational attainment (College Board, 2007).

Pharr-San Juan Alamo Independent School District staff discusses how their organization promotes Family Engagement.

Pharr-San Juan Alamo Independent School District staff discusses how their organization promotes Family Engagement.

“Si nosotros escuchamos las necesidades de nuestra comunidad y trabajamos en equipo, sea con alguna empresa, sea con algún distrito escolar o con una organización que se enfoca en las necesidades de los latinos o de la comunidad en general logramos poder llevar a cabo este proyecto.” – program representative, Gateway Technical College

Throughout the Hangout we learned that it takes everyone to make this work – from the teachers to the parents and administrators. If it is seen as a priority for the community, our students will reap the benefits. We encourage you to watch the Hangout and share the Hangout recording with your networks.

The next Hangout will take place on Wednesday March 16, 2016 and will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education, with a particular focus on Hispanic girls in honor of Women’s History Month. I hope you will join us as we work together to move the needle on progress for Hispanic students across the nation.

Maria Pastrana Lujan is Senior Advisor at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics


Future Hangouts:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education – March 16, 2016
  • Latino teacher recruitment – April 20, 2016
  • Early Learning – May 18, 2016

Visit Your Favorite Museum or Cultural Center on Museum Day Live!

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom

Where will you be on Saturday, March 12, 2016? In honor of Women’s History Month, the Smithsonian Institute is hosting a special edition of its annual Museum Day Live! encouraging everyone, in particular, women and girls of color, to participate in a day of exploration, fun and hands-on learning. Hundreds of science centers, libraries, aquariums, libraries, zoos and museums will be opening their doors for free across the country to celebrate the theme “Inspiring Women and Girls of Color.”

This month, and all year, we recognize the importance of educating and supporting the educational attainment and advancement of our girls and women, in particular girls and women of color, around the nation. We also take this opportunity to celebrate the educational progress they continue to make. For example, from 2009 to 2012, the graduation rate at four-year colleges and universities increased by 0.9 percentage points for black women, 3.1 percentage points for Hispanic women, 2.7 percentage points for American Indian/Alaska Native women, and 2.1 percentage points for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women.

Yet, in spite of this tremendous progress, barriers continue to exist for girls and women of color. In order to help them reach their full potential, we know we must continue to invest in their education. Learning can and should take place across many contexts and formal and informal (or free-choice) settings such as summer camps, via the web, in afterschool programs, and at museums or science centers. Additionally, informal education providers are increasingly gaining recognition as key educational partners.

Access to a well-rounded, high-quality education and exposure to student-support services and informal-learning experiences that focus on supporting students’ social and emotional growth are critical components to ensuring their success. Museum Day Live! provides an opportunity for anyone to connect content that they learn in schools to their lives and communities – no matter where you live.

First Lady Michelle Obama has said “One visit, one performance, one touch, and who knows how you could spark a child’s imagination?” Join us for Smithsonian Day Live! and help expand the horizons of young people and encourage our girls and women of color and their peers to learn about the world around them, avenues of creativity, and arts and sciences while sparking their imagination. Find a participating institution in your community and reserve your spots by visiting

If there is not a participating institution easily accessible, there are many virtual opportunities that you could engage with on that day. Further, you can check for updates on Twitter with @museumday and join throughout the day, by sharing your photos using #museumday and #ImagineHer.

To learn more and for a toolkit designed to help you spread the word, visit:

Maribel Duran is the Chief of Staff for the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics and Ellen Lettvin is the Robert Noyce Senior Fellow in Informal STEM Learning at the U.S. Department of Education

Nominate a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling

Summary: Nominate a White House Champion of Change who has highlighted the unique experiences of AAPIs and brought attention to the pressing issues facing this growing community

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is the fastest growing racial group in the United States. As one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse groups in the country, AAPIs trace their heritage to over 30 different countries and ethnic groups and speak over 100 languages and dialects. The challenges faced by AAPIs are as diverse as the communities they come from.

Recognizing this tremendous growth and the unique needs within the AAPI community, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13515 reestablishing the White House Initiative on AAPIs on October 14, 2009. Although AAPIs have helped build a strong and vibrant U.S., many still face linguistic, economic, educational, and immigration barriers that often hinder them from achieving their full potential.

Artists and advocates, through their unique channels and distinct platforms, have played a critical role in telling powerful stories, increasing awareness around key AAPI issues, and encouraging diversity and inclusion in all sectors of society. As a part of this year’s AAPI Heritage Month, the White House Initiative on AAPIs will convene AAPI leaders and allies to highlight the accomplishments of AAPI artists and advocates.

In coordination with these efforts, the White House will honor Champions of Change for AAPI art and storytelling who have raised the visibility of diverse AAPI experiences and created dialogue around issues the community faces. The Champions of Change program honors individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

Nominees may include:

  • Storytellers who have included and continue to include AAPI characters in their films, television shows, and literature to address pressing issues, including immigration, civil rights, economic opportunity, health, diversity and inclusion, and more;
  • Poets and spoken word artists who highlight AAPI experiences in their work in order to advance pressing issues, including immigration, civil rights, economic opportunity, health, diversity and inclusion, and more;
  • Musicians who use music as a tool to bring national attention to issues facing the AAPI community, including immigration, civil rights, economic opportunity, health, diversity and inclusion, and more.

Nominate a Champion of Change by midnight on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Be sure to select “AAPI Art and Storytelling” as your “Theme of Service” on the nomination form.

Nominate a Champion

Doua Thor is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which is housed within the Department of Education.

Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Google+ Hangout Highlights Local Efforts in Postsecondary Education Completion for Latino Students

On January 20, 2016, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics hosted a Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Google+ Hangout session highlighting efforts focused on the postsecondary education completion of all students, including Latino and undocumented students, around the country. Beatriz Ceja, Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division Director at the U.S. Department of Education, and I were joined by representatives from Bright Spots in Illinois, Ohio, New York, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Texas.

The Google+ Hangout was a lively and informative discussion on promising practices and strategies supporting and investing in postsecondary education in order to close the completion gap for Hispanic students. Hispanic students comprise the largest minority group on college campuses, however, as of 2012, only 22% of young Hispanics attained an associate’s degree or higher (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013). In addition, according to a 2012 white paper for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, nearly one in two Latino college students are the first in their family to attend a higher education institution. Their navigation of higher education is often a challenge and concern for them and their families. Helping ensure they persist and complete their postsecondary education by providing them the tools and resources needed to do so is crucial to both their success and the success of the nation. Bright Spots that were featured are helping to combat disparities and increase the number of Latino college graduates through their efforts.

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics staff at the Google + Hangout on Postsecondary Education Completion on January 20, 2016.

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics staff at the Google + Hangout on Postsecondary Education Completion on January 20, 2016.

“…The demographics in North Carolina have quickly been transforming over the last two decades and we’re really seeing that first hand in our educational system. And so, simply puts SLI in business of creating social and cultural capital and I think that’s really key to get our students through high school into college and to succeed in college…” Ricky Hurtado, UNC-Chapel Hill, Scholars’ Latino Initiative

The work of these Bright Spots is crucial for our future generation. In order to achieve success, Latino students need guidance prior to college enrollment and throughout their undergraduate career. From career development to closing the graduation gap between Latinos and their white counterparts, these Bright Spots continue to raise the bar for our Latino students. All of these organizations understand the importance of a post-secondary education and they have made a commitment to help students maximize their potential.

The next Google+ Hangout will take place on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 in Spanish and will focus on Family Engagement. We hope you will join us as we continue to work together to build on the progress made for Hispanic students throughout the nation.


To view the full engagement video here:

Upcoming topics and dates:

  • Family Engagement (Spanish) – February 17, 2016
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education – March 16, 2016
  • Latino Teacher Recruitment – April 20, 2016
  • Early Learning-May 18,2016

Marco Davis is the Deputy Director for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics