As a Hispanic living in New York, Lissette valued education because she saw firsthand how her mother was able to overcome many struggles to pursue an education. After moving to Miami she found a primarily Latino culture which echoed their booming presence in the U.S. demographics.
Experiences such as opening a Gifted program, Little Red Schoolhouse Liaison, District Liaison for the Teaching Enrichment Activities to Minorities (TEAM) Program, Reading Coach, Literacy Leadership Team Director, Teacher Leader and National Board Certified Teacher encouraged her to receive a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership through which she hopes to continue her personal crusade to empower Latino students by influencing educational policy.
Her continuous strive for educational excellence resulted in having been chosen as one of two National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) to represent Miami-Dade County Public Schools in NBCT’s Teaching and Learning Conference in Washington D.C. in 2014. As a Latina role model, she uses her experiences to impact her students’ lives by encouraging them to continuously seek opportunities for growth and empowerment through education.
Why do you teach?
I teach because I want all of my students to succeed. I want them to have opportunities that will enable them to achieve anything they want. It is important for them to see that they truly have equal access to a good education and that they are not limited by their background or their culture. I always tell my students, “The choices we make dictate the life we lead,” so it is important to make the right choices. I am here to ensure they have the tools to do so.
What do you love about teaching?
The feeling of watching elementary school students re-interpret a modernized version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” or re-creating a life-size rainforest in the classroom because they understood the concepts are some of the most magical memories I share. I have been lucky to have some of the same students that I taught in elementary school during their formative, high school years. I feel honored and humbled that I am able to take part in my students’ journeys.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?
I have been fortunate enough to have two wonderful mentors in my journey as an educator. In elementary school, I had a wonderful teacher Mrs. Stone who encouraged me to read and not be afraid to aim higher. She did not see me as a Latino girl from a divorced mother but, rather, as a young girl “capable of anything.” As a college student, I was blessed to have interned with Ms. Ellin Goldstein. Her family’s involvement in the Holocaust opened my eyes to criminal injustices performed in the name of discrimination and ignorance and made me realize the significance of my role as an educator. She inspired me to continuously grow and seek out ways to change what needs to be changed. She is a living testament to one’s own strength and determination. I learned to celebrate what once made me different and used it as a tool to help and inspire others.