Jennifer Flores (BA '12, MIT '14) is working to reinforce and advocate for students who lack a voice in school because they do not have English fluency.
As a teacher at Cedarhurst Elementary School in Highline, the University of Washington College of Education alumna has dedicated herself to engaging with the community by giving positive phone calls home, visiting families and encouraging families to visit school.
“[I wanted to work at Cedarhurst] because it has a very diverse student population and I wanted to be a presence as a teacher of color to prepare students for a successful future,” Flores said.
Flores believes a strong support system in the classroom prepares students to overcome obstacles.
“Although it can be difficult working in a school with larger class sizes and many standardized tests, I wanted to work with the students that need a ‘warm demander,’ someone that cares for them, while still holding them to high expectations,” Flores said. “Sometimes, students go through trauma or have familial issues, but the reward is that there is a trust built between us and they know that I'll be there to help and support them through anything.”
Flores knows how big of an impact community engagement can have in the classroom.
“By having constant communication with families and empowering students in different settings, management is easier, curriculum makes sense to them (because I can connect it to my students), and growth is constantly made,” she said.
Outside of teaching, she has created an Educators of Color group in the Highline School District with two other graduates of the College's teacher preparation program—Juan Cordova (MIT '14) and Vesna Danh (MIT '14).
“My goal as a first grade teacher is to watch my students graduate from 6th grade and talk to them about everything they've learned,” Flores said. “My goal as a teacher of color is to ensure that the curriculum that I'm teaching is culturally relevant and responsive to my students. My goal as an educator is to create a lasting impression on my students to become strong leaders and make the world a better place.”
Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications