Elementary School Teacher
New Orleans, LA
José Guadarrama has taught in the Greater New Orleans area for seven years, the last six at FirstLine Schools. José is a founding member of John Dibert Community School, a turnaround school in New Orleans that grew from an F to a B in three years. He contributed to this growth by moving his ELA students 33 points on the School Achievement Index in one year, the highest growth in the FirstLine Schools network and the 92nd percentile of growth statewide. Mr. Guadarrama worked with a small team of FirstLine teachers to develop shared units across four schools. He has lead remediation for fourth grade scholars at FirstLine Schools summer program, has worked as a content leader at Teach For America’s Summer Institute in Los Angeles and was recognized by Teach For America as a distinguished teacher selected to attend the Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies.
In addition to Jose’s contributions in the classroom and as a teacher leader, he has mobilized his school community in outreach to a growing number of Spanish-speaking families. José is the exemplar for joyful learning, and builds a community within his classroom that allows students to drive their own development and love of school.
Why do you teach?
Teaching is my way of contributing to the immediate and long term future of my community. I’ve seen kids become more curious about each other and their place in the world because of what we study in class. Fueling students curiosity and ambition is what keeps me in the classroom because it’s different for each student. Year after year I greet a new group of third graders thinking, “I’m going to figure out what makes you tick and use it to help you ask and answer questions about our community, world and your responsibilities and place in it.”
What do you love about teaching?
I love many things about being an educator. Foremost, I love my students. Every year students teach me how to me a more compassionate and loving person while not lowering expectations for excellence. I love that I’ve seen myself grow in the skills and knowledge base that teaching upper elementary demands. I love that my improvement as a teacher has no end, but always has more potential.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?
Just the other day I was thinking of Mr. Grey, my fourth grade teacher. He made the mundane magical. School work was never drudgery. Mr. Grey made me feel that the world held curiosities I needed to uncover through joyful discipline.