Dual Language Teacher of the Month – Christina Perez
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Salinas, CA. I, along with my siblings are first generation born in the United States. Our family, culture, and pride comes from Michoacán, Mexico, where growing up, we spent our winter vacations and learned what being Mexican is all about. Being Mexican American is a privilege and something I am very proud of.
How long have you been involved in education?
I have been involved in education all of my life. As a child, I always found myself volunteering and wanting to be involved in all educational activities. From helping my peers in class, to participating in extracurricular activities and being as involved as possible. Once I reached the high school level I began returning to my elementary schools and volunteering my time. During my college years I worked with after school tutoring programs and began my required volunteering hours in the classrooms for my bachelor and teaching credentials.
The most amazing gift as a Dual Immersion teacher is when families share with me that they traveled as far as a foreign country where they speak Spanish, or simply to a Mexican restaurant in town, where their child practiced and applied what they have learned. When my students take pride in being bilingual, I know everyone at our school has contributed in achieving that goal, and we all take great pride in that!
What was your biggest influence in becoming an educator?
Mrs. Howell. She was my first grade teacher. I have freckles, and I was teased and bullied on a daily basis growing up because of them. I would often cry because of it. Mrs. Howell took it upon herself to help me, and find a way to put a smile on my face. One day Mrs. Howell kept me in from recess and told me "Your freckles are really angel kisses, all the other students are jealous of your angel kisses. So, when someone says something mean to you, in your head, remind yourself that they are angel kisses and they are simply jealous. It's our little secret". She made a huge impact on my life; how I saw myself, my confidence, and my self-esteem. She opened my eyes and made me realize how much of an impact a teacher can have on a child for the rest of their lives. It was then that I realized, I too, wanted to have the opportunity to impact the lives of children as she did mine.
Have you always been interested in teaching first grade?
I have always been drawn towards the younger kids. However, my first year of teaching I found myself in a 5-6 dual immersion class, where I discovered that the upper grades are simply young kids in bigger bodies. Once I decided I was ready to move back to Salinas, a first grade position was where I found a new home. I just finished my 4th year of teaching first grade and I absolutely love it!