Educator of the week

Jorge Reyes 
Dr. Julian Nava Learning Academy

Los Angeles Unified School District
Favorite Teaching Subjects : Mathematics, STEM, AVID and Art

With an undeniable passion for education, Mr. Jorge Reyes strives to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in a community where students have little to no exposure or knowledge of the countless opportunities that STEM presents. 

Throughout his seven years of teaching, Jorge has constantly found innovative ways to incorporate STEM into his curriculum, more so now at the Dr. Julian Nava Learning Academy, where he is exposing students to hands-on activities that integrate both STEM and art in an effort to encourage student creativity. A versatile educator, he consistently conveys the parallels between art and mathematics to his students by way of several activities, including his hands-on paper-tower, spaghetti bridge and foam board model lessons, to name a few.

Jorge was raised in Lincoln Heights, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, California, sitting just outside of the Downtown area. Growing up, Jorge witnessed first-hand a community surrounded by poverty, gangs and street violence. Despite those pressures and obstacles, Jorge managed to avoid those negative influences and found interests in playing games and riding his bike with his friends, from which he developed a hobby for constructing ramps in order to perform bike tricks.  “I am thankful though that I lived a poor life because I learned about the riches elsewhere − mostly about respect and relationships with people and our community,” he states.

Admired at a young age by the people in his community, Jorge noticed many students struggled with math and took it upon himself to help his peers study and develop more favorable habits. As a 7th grade student, his math teacher, Ms. Erin Skove, was his initial inspiration and the person who encouraged him to pursue math. He expresses, “She made math fun and entertaining!" Always in search of expanding his knowledge, he continued to pursue opportunities that involved his favorite subject. Jorge decided to join the MESA (Math, Engineering, Science and Achievement) Program at his Junior High School where he participated in several STEM competitions, earning trophies and well-deserved bragging rights for his multiple wins.

At the age of 18, upon graduating from high school, Jorge joined the U.S Army. After his military service, Jorge returned home and decided to pursue a higher education. He enrolled at California State University, Los Angeles where he studied Electrical Engineering. During his time in the program, Jorge came to the realization that mathematics and education was where his strengths actually lay. And so, he changed majors and in 2008 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a Single Subject Teaching credential. 

Immediately following this milestone, Jorge began his journey as an educator and shortly thereafter, discovered that the MESA program at his school was being eliminated due to budget restraints. Remembering how important the program was to him, Jorge looked for similar programs in the area that would enable him to teach students about STEM. Jorge found that alternative and soon established a relationship with Great Minds in STEM’s, STEM-Up™ Initiative.  “When I learned of STEM-Up's mission and vision I immediately bought into that idea, as it was a program that would promote the thing I loved the most. STEM education is so hands-on, inquiry based and so much more,” he says.

During his spare time, Jorge enjoys soldering circuits, plumbing and working on his home. 

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