Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Profile Alexandra Fuentes


Alexandra Fuentes

ELL Biology & Ecology High School Teacher in Alexandria, VA

Alexandra Fuentes teaches high school ELL Biology/Ecology at TC Williams International Academy in Alexandria, VA. Previously she taught biology for five years at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy in Washington, DC. She is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow Alum, a Knowles Science Teaching Senior Fellow, and a Teacher-in-Residence with Teach Plus where she is helping to coordinate a Teach Plus alumni network. She was a panelist at the 2013 NBC Education Nation Teacher Town Hall, has written several op-eds, and was featured in a Q&A article by Anya Grottel-Brown titled “Bridging the Gap Between Teachers and the Media.” She also co-directed a high school musical production of RENT, co-founded a mentoring program for advanced students to work with scientists at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and facilitated the Mentors in Medicine pre-med enrichment program at the DC charter school where she started her teaching career. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Economics from the University of Pittsburgh and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Why do you teach? I teach because education can change the trajectory of children’s lives, and because I believe a child’s access to educational opportunities and quality teachers should not be determined by their zip code.I teach Biology because it is more than a collection of facts. It is a field that needs young people with new ideas and fresh perspectives to propel us forward. Whether my students go into science or another field, it is a privilege to work with them to help them uncover their passions and rethink what is possible for their futures.I teach because the field of education demands top talent and grit, and because teachers are the ones who are best positioned to advocate for the policies and best practices that our students need.

What do you love about teaching? I love how challenging teaching is. I am constantly problem solving: How can I make the content relevant and interesting? How can I craft a lesson that will get every student to engage in the work? How can the experiences students have in my class push them to rethink what is possible for their own futures? What can I do today in my class to show students that they have unique ideas and talents that can make the world a better place?? Teaching isn’t a job for just anyone. It is a profession that demands top talent akin to the kind of applicants who pursue careers in medicine and law, but even tougher.

Was there a teacher who inspired you? I had many wonderful teachers growing up starting with my mother, but I did not think that I wanted to become a teacher until I volunteered in a preschool during college. It was then that I saw the insatiable curiosity that preschoolers have when they first enter school, and I wondered what could be done to sustain or rekindle that curiosity as kids move through middle and high school. I was also influenced by my grandma who wanted to become a teacher but lived in a time and circumstance that made that dream impossible.