Educator of the week

Maria Chavez-Jacobo 
Sheridan Street Elementary

Los Angeles Unified School District

Favorite Subjects: Art, Music, Social Studies, Health, Science, Physical Education, and Math

For the past 18 years, Ms. Maria Chavez-Jacobo has been a proud member of the Sheridan Street Elementary School family. Inspired by her kindergarten teacher, Ms. Kirchner, Maria realized at a young age that she wanted to educate the future leaders of the world, and would often role-play as a teacher with her siblings and friends from the neighborhood. It was Ms. Kirchner's kind, loving, and respectful demeanor paired with a fun style of learning, that convinced Maria to become a teacher.

The eldest of five, Maria and her siblings grew up in the Ramona Gardens - a public housing development in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. Like many families in this community, Maria faced firsthand the struggles of growing up in an underserved community, but that only helped cultivate the strong individual that she is today. Soon after elementary school, Maria had the opportunity to attend middle and high school in the San Fernando Valley. There, she was exposed to individuals of diverse ethnicities and cultures, all of whom helped mentor and guide her towards continuing her education after high school.

Maria received her Associate's degree from Marymount Palos Verdes College, followed by her Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii. After graduating from Chaminade University, she returned home where she attended the California State University of Los Angeles and obtained her Master's degree in Education, while simultaneously teaching for the Los Angeles Unified School District. "I am a first generation college graduate who made it because the educators who were African-American, Caucasian, Irish, and Mexican touched my life and helped me to pursue my dream of one day becoming an elementary school teacher."

Currently, Ms. Chavez-Jacobo is living her dream of working with and educating the youngest minds in Boyle Heights. Like many educators, she is constantly looking for new techniques to not only educate her children, but better prepare them for a world that is constantly changing due to technology and innovation. For the past five years, Maria has been a proud supporter of STEM-Up™, a Great Minds in STEM™ initiative focused in the heart of Boyle Heights. Through this initiative, she has been able to participate in various summer teacher workshops and professional developments, which have fostered relationships with other educators from her surrounding community of schools. "I decided to become involved in STEM because I wanted to learn what it was all about. Also, I wanted to see if I would be able to use any of the information, activities and resources with my kindergarten students. For three summers now, I have been an active participant in the teacher’s institute, and I have become more passionate about making sure that my students have positive experiences with math and science curriculum."

This year, Maria is looking to expand her students understanding of numbers and quantities in their everyday life using the tools and resources she has gained from participating in GMiS workshops. Additionally, she plans to "expose them to other nontraditional careers through dramatic play, guest speakers, literature, and community role models."

During her free time, Maria enjoys reading, swimming, traveling, and cooking. She also enjoys listening to some good music like Disco, R&B, Classical, Latin Jazz, and Rancheras.

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