I was in high school at the height of the AIDS crisis. And as a 13- and 14-year-old, I would sneak away into the city to meet up with this group of people, mostly gay men and Black women, who…
Teacher stories, interviews, and videos related to project-based learning in schools.
I remember being in a conversation with my mom in high school — I don't know if we were driving somewhere, or just talking in the kitchen. But I remember her telling me that I was ‘a real people person’…
It was about the third classroom I walked into that I saw a distinct pattern. It was in the written instructions that the teacher would leave for me. It's called the sub plans. And at the bottom of all the sub plans was always a list of students' names. And above that list of names was a title. And that title said, “Problem students.”
I have the honor and joy of teaching U.S. history and civics to recent immigrant and refugee students. My students come from more than 30 countries: from Colombia, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Cambodia. Most of my students have been in the U.S. for less than five years.
I went to school to be a journalist. My financial aid package required that I take on a work-study job. So during my first year of school, I worked with Jumpstart, an AmeriCorps program where they put college kids in Title I preschools.
I was pretty close with my brother. He ended up going to jail when I was in fourth grade. We were having morning meeting at school, and the question that day was, ‘How are you feeling?’
Early on in my career, I was more afraid of talking to parents. But I had a principal who said, ‘If you're not calling them first with a positive, then when you call them with a negative, it's going to be harder.’ So I tried to do that. And I have had great success with parents trusting me and knowing that I have their kids’ best interests at heart.
I was full-on ready to be a full-time artist. And then I was invited to be a teacher at a summer institute in Denver, through the Native American Youth Outreach Program. I think it was seeing those kids connect to our traditional arts — part of our cultural inheritance that they had little exposure to before. It was seeing kids connect to our indigenous ways that changed me.