“Ms. Felix, I feel like you really believe in me. Thank you for having my back, you’re not like those other teachers.” These are words from a student of mine who will forever be engrained in my brain.
If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up in high school, I would have said a lawyer or a politician. If you had asked me in elementary school, I would have replied, “I’m not sure, I just know I want to work with people.” Little did I know that these “people” would be my brilliant students in Richmond, California.
Richmond is often recognized for all the wrong reasons such as gun violence, gang involvement and failing schools. Despite this being the narrative about my community, I see the potential for my city and also the hope for a changing future in my students.
I have heard my students’ stories and been in tears with them because I too, at one point, felt unsafe walking home from school because I feared being hit by a stray bullet. There are many similarities between my story and those of my students. When I began working in schools, I was excited to share my experience and how I was able to attend UC Berkeley despite growing up surrounded by conditions that could shatter that dream for me. However, I quickly discovered that my students have way more to teach me than I could ever teach them. Being from the community and returning and teaching has been eye-opening and rewarding to me.
I entered college dreaming of pursuing law school after graduating. I now realize that what attracted me to law school was having the opportunity to bring justice to inequities. During my junior year of college, I began enjoying my experience working with students so much that I started searching for teaching opportunities that I could engage in after college. Teach for America is the one that stood out the most because their mission is rooted in a deep belief for all kids, regardless of zip code. I had amazing educators in my life, many of them Teach for America corps members who had this belief in me; this belief has gotten me to where I am today.
Teach for America has provided me the opportunity to work directly in the community I call home and serve students who have gone through our district and been repeatedly failed. I knew that I needed to be in a classroom upon graduating from college because it made me feel content and I knew in my heart that education was the path I was destined to choose. When I was a junior in high school, I challenged myself to take AP US History, which comes with an AP exam that no one in my high school had ever passed. On our first day of class, my teacher, a complete stranger at the time, told my class that he knew we could break this barrier and pass this exam, and that his job was to believe in us and provide the support necessary for us to get there. After a very challenging school year, I passed the AP US History exam with a 5. My teacher is still a great mentor and friend to me, always pushing me to challenge the status quo and succeed despite the many challenges that surround me. Knowing that I have even the slightest chance of supporting my students to overcome challenges like these are what motivate me to pursue education. I feel warmth and confident around my students and know that I made the right decision in coming full circle and returning to my community as an educator.
Latest posts by Daniela Felix (see all)
- The Importance of Mid Year Data for Teachers, Students, and Families - December 18, 2019
- Las Familias Deben Participar en la Mejora de los Resultados de las Pruebas SBAC de California - December 10, 2019
- La Guia de los Aprendices de Inglés de California es un Recurso Útil para los Maestros - December 4, 2019
- California’s English Learner Roadmap Is a Helpful Resource for Teachers - December 2, 2019
- Families Need To Be Involved in Improving California’s SBAC Test Results - November 27, 2019