East Bay Innovation Academy

Grade & Subject: 7th Grade- History
Simpson University: BA- Cross Cultural Studies
Alliant International University: MA- Education
Social Studies Credential

My life mission is to make communities stronger. A few years ago, I was looking to find a better career fit than social work. I had done some substitute teaching but wasn’t sure if it was right for me, until I talked with my brother, Ruben Quinones, who teaches ELD at a Title 1 high school in Concord. It was through that conversation that I realized how important education is to community development on so many levels. I knew then I wanted to be in education, because teachers are change makers in society, and that’s what I wanted to be.

Several experiences have shaped my views on education: studying abroad in Uganda, teaching English in South Korea, assisting in job placement for immigrants. The 2016 presidential election has made the work that I do even more meaningful. As a world history teacher I believe in learning about other cultures, understanding them, and critically assessing how the media portrays them. This has been the focus in my classroom, beginning with our first unit: Muslim history. My students learned about Islam, the contributions of the Muslim empire, and the nasty stereotypes that are spread worldwide about them. They were also exposed to the reality that in some states, Islamic history is being erased from history books and teachers are receiving threats for so-called Islamic bias.

Watching my students become passionate about understanding Muslims and advocating for rights on their behalf instilled in me a new purpose for this job. It’s hard to put it into words, but teaching is more than just a service––there’s real social progress involved, too. I’m proud of the growth I’ve made as an educator in the years I’ve been teaching.

I’m always looking for ways to make learning meaningful, exciting, and enjoyable. I’m more energized than ever and I am especially proud of my curriculum this year. Although it isn’t perfect, I see clearly that I am pushing my students to reach a greater depth of knowledge, to think more critically about the world around them, and to be change makers in their communities.