Bridges Academy at Melrose

Holy Names University: BA- Psychology
San Francisco State University: Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with Bilingual Emphasis (Spanish)
UC Berkeley: MA- Urban School Leadership- Administrator’s Credential

From an early age I was drawn to being around children. I would often visit my mom at Franklin Elementary School where she worked for many years. Later, when I came back from volunteering in Venezuela, she suggested that I become a substitute teacher in OUSD until I figured out what I wanted to do. My first long-term subbing job was so hard, I cried every day. “No one is listening to me”, I kept thinking of my second graders. My mom told me it would get easier. Over time it did, and I came to love my job––now 20 years in as an educator in OUSD.

I entered the Oakland public schools as a newly arrived immigrant. During the difficult transition, I remember taking a vow to myself that I would help other immigrant children adapt to a new and foreign culture. Being at Bridges helps me do just that. One-third of students are in the Sheltered English Immersion track and two-thirds in the early exit Spanish bilingual program, transitioning into English in 3rd grade. 90% are Latino, 5% African American, and 5% other (including Yemeni and Asian). 80% are English Learners. 20% are newcomers (in the US less than three years).

My career has been influenced by Moyra Contreras’ vision of social justice, service related learning, and integrated curriculum per an Expeditionary Learning framework that I learned from Melrose Leadership Academy. I have also been influenced by racial justice-oriented educational training programs at SFSU and UCB’s PLI program. My experiences working in partnerships with organizations such as BASRC (Bay Area School Reform Collaborative), Partners in School Innovation and the National Equity Project have also shaped my thinking around teacher development and collaboration as essential parts of school reform.

I love hearing how my past students are doing. I now educate children of my past students and it makes me feel like a proud grand teacher. I have given many children the gift of reading––taking them from not knowing how to read to reading fluently. Hearing about a student who has made it through college makes me proud and reminds me that all the work I do is worth it. But I am at my happiest when I hear about a student who looks and sounds happy in their lives as adults.