English Language Development, Accelerated English, English
Watsonville High School, Pajaro Valley Unified
Mentor, Santa Cruz/Silicon Valley New Teacher Project, Santa Cruz County
Local Writing Project:
Central California Writing Project (CCWP)
Awards & Recognition
- Educator of the Year, California League of High Schools Region 5, 2007
- Leadership Teacher Award, Watsonville High School, 2011
- CCWP Teacher Consultant
Integrating our study of Night with the CWP’s Upstander, Not Bystander project resulted in a defining shift in my practice. I had a passion for social justice that I was finding difficult to meld with literature studies while keeping it relevant to the here and now of students’ lives. Through this project I heard my students’ voices in ways I hadn’t given them the opportunity to express before. The Central California Writing Project provides a community where relevance, rigor, and equity are held up to the light and examined, which has helped me stretch to be the teacher I’ve always wanted to be.
Writing has always been close to my heart, personal, intimate. As I became a teacher, my writing became strictly professional through assignments, communication with parents, staff and administration. So at my first institute I was surprised by the trepidation I felt when we were asked to write our own piece about writing and share it aloud. I had created a gulf between my love of personal writing and my profession. Writing requires taking risks, being bare. I then realized, “If this is what I feel like, how must my students feel!” So I not only now blend the writing from my heart with the writing of my vocation, I also empathize with what I’m asking from my students. So I write. I write and I write to keep close to my heart and the hearts of my students.
The philosophy of the Writing Project is that we are all leaders in our classrooms, grade levels, and sites. We all come with expertise to share. This high regard and respect for teachers creates a space where teachers can delve deeply into their practice. I know that every time I present, every teacher I coach and mentor, I am going to learn much more than I teach.
Writing is the most powerful yet complex form of communication. Writing is learned developmentally, not in check off lists but in cycles. It’s a process that can be challenging, but it’s also a process that can be beautiful, exciting, and most importantly, empowering. My goal is to bring that beauty, that excitement, that empowerment to my students so that they not only enrich their own lives but the lives of others.
My favorite book on writing is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. What still strikes me about using this book for my personal writing is the emphasis on capturing the everyday as well as the profoundly personal. The experience of eating an avocado is worth putting pen to paper just as much as our most terrible fears or heartache. Writing is communication, it’s power, but most importantly, it’s expression.