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.