East Bay Innovation Academy

Grade & Subject: 8th grade- ELA
UC Santa Barbara: BA
Cal State Northridge: MA- English Literature

I was in 9th grade English class at Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda, CA when I decided I was going to work in education. My teacher, Jennifer Harrison, always spoke the truth and taught from her heart, and her passion for the material she was teaching inspired me to become a teacher. She taught me that it is possible to facilitate learning by using engaging and relevant material.

It’s no secret that our country has a history of intolerance––racial discrimination and violations of women’s rights, to name a few. Previously, I taught in schools where high achievement was the primary goal instead of fostering an environment where learners could explore their passions. I believe we can combat intolerance with education, so I include a heavy dose of social justice in my curriculum to build a more tolerant culture. I create an environment in my classroom where students feel safe to explore new things and take charge of their own learning.

It’s important to me that my eighth graders connect current events to literature. When students discuss material that is relevant to them and are able to make connections to what they are learning, they are more fully engaged. For example, after learning more about the #NoDAPL and Rezpect Our Water movements, my students were able to make connections between the events in the movements and classic Native folktales and poetry about losing land, rights, and identity. Additionally, bringing current events like the protests in Standing Rock into the classroom inspires my students to think critically about our country and society, which allows them to start thinking about solutions for change.

EBIA is working to build a rigorous and inclusive learning environment for a diverse group of learners using project based learning and social-emotional learning. I believe in the educators in this community and feel positive about the real changes we can make in the future.