I was born and raised in Colombia, South America, until my family moved to Pasadena when I was 10 years old (fifth grade age!). I attended Madison Elementary and Marshall Fundamental - both Pasadena public schools. My family moved to Georgia during my junior year of high school, where I lived until I moved back to Pasadena for the beginning of my second year of college. I graduated from Cal State Northridge with a B.A. in Music Education. Later I received a multiple-subject CA Teaching Credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills. Finally, I also have an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.
I am musical by nature (though not outrageously talented) so this is one area I gladly incorporate into my classroom instruction. In fact, I have written a few educational songs to help my students learn content in science and social studies. Of course, I also write songs as it is my way of including one of my favorite hobbies into my time of teaching - music in general. At the end of the 2009-2010 school year I wrote a song to honor those teachers at our school who received a layoff notice from the district due to state-wide budget cuts. I wanted them to know that things will work out in the end, no matter what happens with their job. (Check it out: RIF Song (Rise in Faith)
The beginning of my teaching career started with a one year stint in a special education classroom (about 7 severely handicapped middle schoolers). Though I learned a lot and grew to love this group of kids and their special needs, I felt a desire to teach regular education. Since then I have established myself as a fifth grade teacher, and this is now my thirteenth year in that grade. Fifth grade is a great school year to teach as all of the subjects excite me. Besides, there's something special about fifth grade for many people I talk to. It is the school year most people remember, and it's usually full of fond memories - unless they happened to have a nightmare teacher (I hopefully will not be that kind of teacher to your child!).
I have been happily married for 19 years and I still feel very young and full of energy! I have two children. My daughter is now in 9th grade and my son is in 7th grade. They both have been the product of a public school education and of McKinley in particular. My wife continues to volunteer her time at McKinley (helping me at home and in the classroom), and also substitute teaches pretty much exclusively here.
For our 2012 summer vacation, we visited family near Syracuse, NY, with my kids getting to spend quality time with their six cousins. I even got the opportunity in helping two of my nieces write and record their own songs (listen to Ally & Chrissy's songs), while in New York. We also went camping at Carpinteria State Beach on two different occasions with family and friends, among other local outings. My older brother and his family visited from Kentucky for 2 weeks, and we had a family reunion with my cousins who were visiting from Costa Rica.
Every summer I make revamping my website one of my most important teaching goals. This site is the product of that effort (over many years). I see my classroom website as a wonderful collection of countless online resources I will use in the classroom to enhance my instruction. My students will have quick and easy access to these many awesome resources both at school and at home (if they have a computer) and their parents will also benefit from what I have set up here (not to mention a number of other teachers who regularly use my site). I occasionally hear a word of thanks from teachers from other states who also use my website to help them with their instruction.
Though teachers do have a nice long summer break, you have to remember that it is a much needed respite from the previous school year of teaching and time to get re-energized for the upcoming school year. Teachers are always on the go once the school year begins. The classroom calls for us to be on and fully engaged all day long, with many teachers even working through part of their recess and lunch breaks. Once they go home, the work is far from being done, with planning, grading and so many other things to get done. The summer for me is not just about these things (I certainly need a break come the end of the school year), but about reflecting and strategizing about how to make the next school year even better. I am coming back refreshed and ready to make this my best year yet.
This summer in particular I read a number of books that have gotten me thinking about teaching and changes I would like to make for the new school year. One book, Moonwalking with Einstein, helped me see the potential students have to learn and retain that information over time with some strategic changes. Another book, The Power of Habit, taught me that changing bad habits is possible and how to best go about it. Every teachers know many students come loaded with bad habits they struggle all year long to break. Finally, another brain book I just got, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, will likely reinforce and add more to my understanding of how the brain works and to my personal reflection as to how to apply my findings to the classroom. I am looking forward to what this year holds and to the new group of students who will be with me for this new school year!
Check out my family pictures below: