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Educator of the week

Miguel Rivera 
Malabar Street Elementary

Los Angeles Unified School District

Strong family values paired with a passion for education, these are just a few of the attributes that describe Mr. Miguel Rivera. A proud faculty member of the Malabar Street Elementary School family, Mr. Rivera has been educating and enlightening young minds from the Los Angeles Unified School District for over 17 years.

Mr. Rivera was raised in a Salinas Valley farming community, located a little over 100 miles south of San Francisco, CA. Like many first generation families, his father was the sole provider for his wife and 11 children. At a very young age, Miguel's father was taken out of school in order to work and did not have  the opportunity to complete his studies. As a result, Miguel's parents were adamant about all of their children attending college. "My parents never made it a choice to go or not to college, but rather the choice of where to go." 

With such a large family, Miguel and his siblings continued their education while simultaneously working part time and contributing to the household.  At the early age of 11, Miguel began working odd jobs, he like picking strawberries, cutting lettuce, and working with irrigation. During his early exposure to labor, Miguel saw the realities and difficulties of so many living in a farming community.  Over the years, he continued to work with his mind as well as his hands, making sure to not lose focus of the bigger goal in successfully achieving a college degree. "I saw a lot of people drop out to pursue quick money in low paying jobs and was inspired to do more by going to college and seeing beyond entry level jobs."  Seeing his friends trade their books for tools the manual labor inspired him even more to attain his college degree. 

During high school, Miguel received the guidance and inspiration to pursue mathematics and science from his 9th grade science teacher, Mr. McNeil.  His methods of teaching showed Miguel how mathematical and scientific ideas are tangible to real life and daily experiences.  With the support from Mr. McNeil, he was able to foster his love for science, mathematics, and engineering while developing a pathway to cultivate that passion in the classroom. Upon graduating from high school, Mr. Rivera attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned his bachelor's degree in Mathematics. Since then, Mr. Rivera has been educating young minds instilling in them the same passion he developed for math and science, and sharing the same tangible connections that were shared with him. 

Prior to Malabar Street Elementary, Mr. Rivera taught at Bridge Street Elementary, located in the community of Boyle Heights, CA, where he was first introduced to Great Minds in STEM™(GMiS) and the STEM-Up™ Initiative. In 2012, he transitioned to Malabar Street Elementary and was excited to see that Malabar was also part of the STEM-Up™ Initiative. Eager to become more involved with STEM-Up™, Mr. Rivera became the teacher ambassador for the school, assisting with the scheduling of activities for the various grade levels and incorporating STEM in to the school culture. In 2014, Mr. Rivera transitioned to an outside-the-classroom position as the Intervention Coordinator, working closely with the school's troubled youth. 

With his new role, he continues to be a proud advocate of the program on his campus. This past year alone, Mr. Rivera participated in GMiS's STEM Summer Workshop series and the K-12 Educators Institute™ at the 26th Annual HENAAC Conference in New Orleans, LA. These two opportunities provided him with valuable resources to take back to the students of Malabar Street Elementary and continue to develop the future wave of scientists and engineers. "I pursued to do well in school to do something different and found the love for Math, Science and Engineering through school, and that is why I teach, to give that same perspective to my students." 

On his spare time, Miguel enjoys reading about science fiction, electronics and tinkering with mechanics. 

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