Hispanic Heritage Month: Educators Share Their Thoughts

This video was created for Hispanic Heritage Month in collaboration with City Teaching Alliance.

Voices of Teachers with Hispanic Heritage

“A lot of people assume that Hispanic or Latina people are just from Mexico. We all come from there. However, that’s not the case. 

We are not a monolith. 

We have Panama, Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, everywhere that speaks Spanish. We all have our own cultures. 

The sense of unity is the common struggles that we go through. 

You grew up and you watched your favorite white superhero, and we were just the side character, the best friend. And so to an extent, yeah, you start to feel that way in life. 

I did not see a lot of Latino teachers growing up. And when I did see a Latino teacher, I felt very proud in that moment. 

It’s a very strong tool when you’re building relationships with the students. You can’t put into words how valuable that is. 

I think it’s my job, and every educator’s job out there, to make sure that our students don’t feel that sense of invisibility, right? ‘Hey, I see you, I value you, and here’s what I’m going to do to make sure you feel that.’

I’ve always seen education as a form of activism. 

We’re grassroots, we’re organizers, were resilient, we’re workers. 

We’re reaching the children to show that they can be even more than what the set tone has been for them.

We can break those barriers for kids. 

I had a student that went running to their mom, and they’re like, ‘¡Mamá, mamá, tengo un maestro que es un hombre!’ [Mom, mom, I have a teacher who is un hombre!]

Yo me acuerdo cuando tenía un maestro que hablaba español [I remember when I had a teacher who spoke Spanish].

Never let that fire go out. 

We’re alive. We’re always here. 

We’re powerful. 

We’re powerful and we’re not invisible.”

Today marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. This year’s theme is Building Prosperous and Healthy Communities, and we’re here to elevate and support a strong community of educators.

Thank you to the following City Teaching Alliance alumni and fellows for collaborating on this video:

Christian Jovel-Arias
Rudy Arellano
Gabriel Hernandez
Madison Hinojosa Holaday
Joey Rodriguez
Araceli Vicuna
Ricardo Vega
Serena Melendrez Wright

About Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of U.S. citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Hispanic Heritage Month began as “Hispanic Heritage Week” in 1968, under President Lyndon Johnson. It was expanded to a month-long observation by President Ronald Reagan and was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.

September 15 is a significant date because it’s the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Columbus Day or Día de la Raza (October 12) falls within this 30-day period, and many Americans now refer to that day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The Smithsonian has a website dedicated to Hispanic Heritage Month, and so does the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Library of Congress also maintains a list of resources for teachers to use during Hispanic Heritage Month.

More resources:
Teacher Resources for Hispanic American Heritage Month from Facing History and Ourselves
Learning Resources for Hispanic Heritage Month from Common Sense Education
Hispanic Heritage Month Resources from the National Museum of the American Latino
Lessons, activities, and videos from the National Education Association

The mission of City Teaching Alliance is to improve educational and life outcomes of children in urban schools by preparing culturally competent, effective career teachers who accelerate student achievement and disrupt systems of racial and socioeconomic inequity. You can learn more here.