During this month and throughout the year, we are proud to honor the cultures, voices, contributions, and resilience of our diverse Latinx communities. At KIPP SoCal, we celebrate Latinx Heritage Month to affirm and continue to learn more about our Latinx community — highlighting the people, extensive histories, and great achievements that have made a positive impact in our communities and beyond.
Yuliana Espinoza, third grade teacher and co-grade level lead at KIPP Comienza Community Prep shared her father's story of pushing through adversity, driving her ambition and keeping her rooted in community:
“My father left Mexico at the age of 17 to come to the United States. He came here to work picking grapes in the Indio Valley. Making a few dollars a day. He worked long hours under the worst conditions and treatment,” said Ms. Espinoza. “He saved everything he had and sent it back home to his parents — family is everything. Over the years he struggled through many jobs, but he never gave up! He believed in ‘Échale Ganas,’ if he just tried his best he could continue and move on to something better. He believed in ‘Sí Se Puede,’ yes, I can,” she remarked.
“I can see his journey and determination still in his eyes today,” noted Ms. Espinoza. “Despite the amount of sacrifices he made during those early mornings with heavy loads, he raised his children to be as strong as him.”
Take a look at Krystal Vega-Washington, School Leader at KIPP Comienza Community Prep, present one of the 2021 KIPPStar Teacher of the Year award* to our very own — Ms. Espinoza! She is described as “an educator who continues to transform education with her sense of justice and her deep rooted love for our community! Her love for teaching is contagious and it has been felt regionally ... She is the ultimate example of find a way or make one!”
“I foster a safe place where I am aware of students’ needs and follow a strengths-based approach. A place where student identities are seen, affirmed, and valued,” said Ms. Espinoza. “I am proud of establishing a classroom culture that promotes risks and growth. Where students will experience rigor, laughter and a sense of belonging. I value students’ emotional, social and cognitive cultural experiences in our teaching and learning process so that students are able to build connections.”
Get a behind-the-scenes look at a “Day in the Life” of Yuliana Espinoza, our incredible KIPPStar third grade teacher at KIPP Comienza Community Prep in Huntington Park, “who teaches with an extreme love for our students and reminds them that they are smart, powerful and can achieve anything they put their minds to,” said School Leader, Mrs. Vega-Washington. “They work together with ‘ganas’ to reach their goals.”
7:00 - 7:45AM — ENERGIZED TO TEACH
It is prep time! It’s time to internalize and get all of my materials ready for a great day ahead.
7:45 - 8:00AM — WARM MORNING GREETINGS
Time to welcome our Bobcats to school. We start each day with a greeting to make sure each student feels seen before they even walk through our classroom door. It’s always great to see their happy faces early in the morning ready to conquer the day.
8:00AM - 12:00PM — TEACHING MATH & LANGUAGE ARTS
I am so happy to be back in-person teaching. During this time, students develop as mathematicians and readers, learning strategies that will help them be successful in third grade and beyond.
12:00 - 12:45PM — SELF-CARE BREAK
This is my sacred time. We are so lucky to have a veranda at our school. I step away from the classroom and enjoy my lunch.
1:00 - 2:00PM — DEVELOPING A LOVE OF READING & PHONICS
Read Aloud is by far one of my favorite blocks to teach. Students get to see all of their reading strategies in action as we pause to predict, envision, and retell. We are currently diving into a new mystery book! After Read Aloud, we practice our Phonics skills with our Open Court Curriculum.
2:00 - 4:00PM — BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN WRITING
We end our day with our last three academic areas: Writing, Number Corner, and Reteach. This year — students have enjoyed writing — developing their narrative stories going from an experience to pages full of beautiful details.
4:00 - 8:00PM — AFTER THE BELL RINGS
I like to take some time to decompress. I go home, get a workout in and then cook. During the pandemic, I grew my love for cooking. This month, I am loving Johanna Gaines' new cooking show on Discovery+. I try to cook a new recipe once a month. My husband and I indulge in watching Fixer Upper and Flip or Flop to get ideas on how to create our own DIY projects!
Fun Fact: I am adventurous — I have skydived, parasailed and zip lined.
“In our 'NYU' classroom, third grade will be an experience and a lasting memory where students are challenged to achieve their highest potential and cooperate collectively with their peers,” said Ms. Espinoza.
“I am excited for our students to know more about their culture, their traditions, community and families. I want our students to know about the sacrifices, tears, decisions, hopes and dreams of many leaders that came before them,” expressed Ms. Espinoza. “I want them to know that their journeys allowed us to be where we are today. As a teacher, I want to teach our students about new LatinX leaders, leaders that have careers that they may seek in the future, leaders that they may have not heard of such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Antonia Novello, and the list goes on. Ultimately, I want them to know that they are leaders, that they are the change, they are the future.”
“Everything our teacher does, she does with an extreme love for our students and she believes wholeheartedly that they will be the change that we need in this world,” concluded School Leader, Mrs. Vega-Washington.
Our team members’ impact is felt every single day and we are grateful for them.
* Each year, we celebrate and honor our inspiring KIPP SoCal Team & Family at the Karsh Family KIPPStar Awards, named in honor of champion supporters and education advocates Martha & Bruce Karsh. In alignment with our mission, KIPP SoCal awards Teacher and Team Member of the Year to individuals who embody the values that ground us as an organization: Lead with Love; Equity. Excellence; Strength in the Collective; Courage and Integrity; Learn and Grow.