The teaching profession is unlike most other jobs or careers. It comes with its own unique demands. Educators are expected to be sources of knowledge, entertainers, cheerleaders and innovators. And more times than not all at once and every day.
Teaching is also one of the most rewarding professions. Every day educators get the chance to inspire young people. Educators use their skills to give something back. They make sure student get access to a quality education and the opportunity to succeed.
Yet, the profession can also be stressful. Educators work long hours. Every day they have to figure our ways to reach students who are struggling. They also find ways to engage all students in a topic or activity.
It is important to hear from people who can relate to you and your experience. It is important to hear ideas from others. It important to hear that everyone at some point in their careers experiences failures or challenges. And that success and achievement can in fact happen. All too often, educators can get locked into their own cocoons. It can leave them struggling to balance the various aspects of their careers.
One way to maintain your momentum is to find inspiration from your colleagues. INSPIRE Aldine is an opportunity to recharge your batteries. Hear what they have experienced. Find out how they overcame challenges. Hear how they initiated positive change and culture in their classroom and/or campus.
The INSPIRE Aldine Committee received 130 nominations. The committee selected seven educators. They each came to the job from different walks of life. Their stories range from career changers to career progression. Others will talk about making a difference. Some will share how they made their dream to teach a reality and gained the confidence to make a difference.
Alejandro de la Peña, Special Education Teacher @ Odom Elementary School
The cards seemed stacked against Alejandro. He was born into poverty. He grew up in a broken family. He also navigated a neighborhood filled with drugs, gangs, violence and crime. His bright spot was school where he excelled, but the road to success was not easy. It took Alejandro nearly 30 years to break the poverty cycle. Now, the special education teacher is making a difference. He helps his students experience learning gains through the use of technology.
“My students‘ disabilities do not define them. As an educator I help students defy their own expectations. Together we aim high. Yes, we often miss the target. But we never give up.”
Betzabel “Betzi” de la Rosa, Bilingual Education Teacher @ Carmichael Elementary School
Before becoming a teacher Betzi worked in the private sector. Her positive personality allows her to connect with students and staff members. She has dedicated many hours toward activities that enhance the students’ educational experiences. It is not unusual to find her tutoring or involved in a school play, the Academic Club and field trips.
“My main goal is to see my students succeed not only in the classroom but also in life,” said Betzi. “I want them to believe they can do anything in life through hard work, dedication and discipline.”
Gerald Williams, Technology Teacher @ Lewis Middle School
Helping students realize their full potential is what drives Gerald. He describes himself as a constant motivator for his students. He ingrains in them his motto: Addicted to Excellence. He doesn’t want them to be satisfied with mediocrity. Instead he encourages them to raise the bar.
“My job as a teacher is to assist students in unlocking their gifts,” said Gerald. “I do so by having high expectations for everyone. And I provide them with the resources and training to meet those expectations.”
Jeana Morrison-Adams, Principal @ Reed Academy for Engineering
In her 21 years as an educator, Jeana has held many roles before becoming a school principal, including teacher and department chair. Her top goal is the same every year: achieve educational excellence. To reach her goal, she lives by The Three Es: Ethics, Empowerment and Equality. She also models what she expects from others. This includes bringing positive energy and excitement to work.
“Empowering staff helps them better focus on students’ needs,” said Morrison-Adams. “Every one has a voice to offer solutions. They know the campus‘ goals and ensure that learning results are visible. As a leader, I seek to make teaching enjoyable. Everyone works together to create a better learning experience for students. It‘s a win–win with educators and students maximizing their potential.”
Jonathan Golden, Assistant Football Coach & Geometry Teacher @ Davis HS
Once upon a time, Jonathan worked as a civil engineer and land surveyor. But the lessons learned in sports kept calling him. Those skills propelled him to be a top 100 blue-chip football recruit during his high school days. Now in his 16th year of teaching and coaching, he continues to share those skills and lessons with others.
“The lessons learned in sports help young men and women succeed in life,” said Jonathan. “These include skills like teamwork, preparation, perseverance and attitude. They also gain confidence and value dedication, commitment and friendship. These are skills that will guide them. My hope is that they will share these skills and impact future generations.”
Jessica Salazar, Dyslexia Specialist @ Calvert Elementary School
Jessica has played many roles before her current position. When she first began her career 14 years ago, she felt she needed to do more. She took on extra duties and went the extra mile. This striving led to an unsustainable pace, and she quickly burned out. She decided to do some self-reflection. This led to flipping her perspective and brought back the joy in her teaching career. It made her a better educator, which translated into success in the classroom.
“Sometimes educators focus on others,” said Jessica. “Many times to the point that educators forget to take care of themselves. It happened to me. I needed to flip the script. I began by changing my attitude and intention to create a balance. Now I wake up every morning energized to share the day with my students. I discovered that by taking care of me, it allowed me as a teacher to give my students the focus and energy they deserve.”
Anthony S. Cobb, Speech & Professional Communications Teacher @ Carver HS
To say that Anthony’s family moved a lot while he was growing up is an understatement. By the time he was in sixth grade, he had attended 12 different primary schools. The road to college also had a few twists and turns before graduating and working in California. It was not until Anthony started working as a substitute teacher that he had an epiphany. He had a passion for teaching, so much so that he pursued an alternate path to reach his dream and make a difference in the lives of students.
“Love and hope have the potential to make mountains to climb seem like molehills,” said Anthony. “I‘ve learned from experience that challenges and failures are the best teachers. They are opportunities to improve and be better. I challenge students to try hard. I reward their struggles as well as their achievements. And I help them develop their talents and strengths. I also want my students to respect themselves and each other. Last year I read a quote from a teacher that stuck with me, and I think are good words to live by: ‘Be fearless. Be kind. And get to know your neighbors.‘”
To view the live stream on Thursday, Feb. 22, click below.
Director of Written Communication & Spanish Media
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