Q. What is your heritage and what country (or countries) is your family from?
A. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. My mom was born and raised in New York (Newyorican) and my dad was born in Puerto Rico my grandparents are also Puerto Ricans.
Q. What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you personally, and why is it important to celebrate it in the PGCPS community?
A. Celebrating our Latin/Hispanic roots is very important to me, even though we are American citizens. I am very proud to be Puerto Rican and American. Puerto Ricans have participated in the military and fought for the US. The only Tropical Forest belonging to the US is located in Puerto Rico. Many Puerto Ricans have contributed to the United States, people like Sonia Sotomayor, Rita Moreno, and Roberto Clemente are just a few Puerto Ricans that have contributed to this amazing country.
We should celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to give recognition to Puerto Rican teachers here in Maryland. PGCPS is home to many Puerto Rican teachers who left their country in pursuit of a better life and work as teachers at PGCPS.
Q. How has your cultural background and heritage shaped your perspective as a leader in education?
A. As an English Language Development teacher having Hispanic roots and heritage helps me connect not only with Latinos or Hispanics but with all my multilingual learners. I can relate to and understand cultural differences and can create better relationships with their families. Being able to speak Spanish with my students' families is an asset in the success of their academic life.
My cultural background makes me look for more culturally responsive ways to teach and integrate my students' culture and heritage in my lessons to make them more pertinent to their lives while honoring their own heritage.
Q. What advice do you have for those interested in pursuing a career in education, especially those from Latino backgrounds?
A. We need more Latinos in the classroom, so our students have more representation. We need more Hispanic role models to inspire the thousands of Hispanic students that we teach. We need to show them they can excel and become professionals. We need to close the gap of education and generations that couldn't go to school or college. We as Latin teachers need to tell our stories and empower our Latin students to achieve their own dreams.
Q. Can you recommend a book, movie, podcast or other resource that students, parents and educators can explore to learn more about Hispanic heritage and its significance in our society?
A. Turning Pages: My Life Story by Sonia Sotamayor and When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago