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Angel Corral (‘10) is currently a first year teacher at a high school in Watts, South Los Angeles, California. She teaches biology and anatomy and physiology to 10th and 11th graders. She’s also in her last quarter of graduate school at UCLA, and will receive a master’s degree in urban education in December 2011.
Angel was always involved with youth, but didn’t consider it for a profession until she started working with preschoolers through Jumpstart. “It was there that I really was made aware about the inequities occurring in education today and became reflective of my own experiences in school.” It was at that point that she began taking classes in the UW College of Education and receiving a minor in education. She seriously pursued teaching under the mentorship of Ruby Linsao, a site manager of Jumpstart at the time, and Daniel Carrillo, associate site manager, and education minor adviser Jenee Myers-Twitchell. Their advice helped Angel develop a clear vision of how she wanted to make an impact on the world.
Angel finds inspiration from her colleagues; other first year teachers with whom she has created a support system to deal with challenges and victories in teaching. She’s also inspired by her high school students striving to graduate and go on to college in spite of institutional and historical roadblocks in their education as a result of their backgrounds. “I am inspired by theorists like Paolo Freire, bell hooks, and Gloria Anzaldua, all revolutionary thinkers who believe truly in empowering the people in dictating their own lives. I am inspired by my professors, both at UW and UCLA, who provided me the necessary knowledge to become a great teacher and instilled in me the goal ‘to know, care, and act’ about my students’ lives and education.”
Angel’s biggest influence has been Daren Chamberlin, the lead teacher she worked with at Denise Louie Education Center all through her Jumpstart tenure. By working with Teacher Daren, she learned the importance of having a positive, trusting, teacher-student relationship. “Teacher Daren, who himself is highly influenced by Paolo Freire, displays in his interactions with his students a value in their self-worth and presence in the classroom. In observing his teaching, even at 3, 4, and 5 years old, I see how much respect, care, and love he has for his students and their education. In return, I see the students’ love back for their teacher. I only hope to be as great as Teacher Daren and create the rapport with my students that he has with his.”
“I learned the most from teachers that showed the most interest in my future: my 7th grade teacher who pushed me and my family to apply for a scholarship that eventually helped me receive an amazing education at a prestigious private high school; my UW Exploration Seminar professors Ursula Valdez and Tim Billo, whom allowed me the opportunity to explore the natural world and find the importance of it in my life. Currently my students every day teach and push me to be a better teacher, far more than any class, seminar, or professor could do.”
Angel’s best moments at work are her Friday afternoons. “Working in Watts is definitely overwhelming and every day on the job is life changing, so I need to take the time on Fridays to critically reflect [on] the day-to-day experiences I am having. I have become proud of myself for putting in the time and effort that I do, despite the exhaustion and frustration that comes with the job.”
Angel’s classroom is a place she wants students to be comfortable, believing that while asking her students to be truthful with her, she wants to do the same by sharing herself and experiences with the students to relate and build positive relationships. “Above my desk in my classroom, I have a sign that says: “SPEAK YOUR TRUTH,” a phrase I constantly emphasize with my students. It is important for me for my students to be real with me and peers about their experiences and their opinions of life and science. Especially because in greater society, urban youth often do not have a voice or a space to say their opinions, it is important for me to provide them just that.”