Educator of the week

Ms. Rosa Gutierrez 
Lorena Elementary School

Los Angeles Unified School District
Favorite Teaching Subject: Mathematics

A product of East Los Angeles, Ms. Gutierrez strongly believes in the importance of giving back to her beloved community. Currently one of the many outstanding teachers at Lorena Street Elementary School in the community of Boyle Heights, Ms. Gutierrez has been educating and developing young minds for the past 19 years. As an educator, she constantly strives towards teaching her students about the world while instilling in them the ideals passed on by her mentors: Do Your Best! Don’t Give Up! You Can Do It!

A proud alumna of Garfield High School, Ms. Gutierrez had the opportunity to learn from Mr. Jaime Escalante for three years. While at Garfield High School, Rosa was enrolled in Algebra II, Trigonometry, Math Analysis, and AP Calculus AB all under the tutelage of Mr. Escalante. During the 11th grade, Ms. Gutierrez was devastated to learn that she had not passed the AP Calculus AB exam. However, Mr. Escalante knew her potential and motivated her to continue with AP Calculus BC. “He always believed in his students and he was absolutely right…I took AP Calculus BC and passed…earning double credits for AP Calculus AB and BC!” Mr. Escalante left a lasting impression on Rosa, stating that he always shared words of inspiration to all of his students and reminded them that “Ganas,” Spanish for desire, was all that they needed. “Mr. Jaime Escalante was a totally dedicated, inspiring, honest person and master teacher. He constantly connected classroom learning with real life and that was real motivation to succeed.” Her experiences along with his teachings have played a big role in how she teaches, motivates and inspires her students to achieve their best.

Upon graduating from high school, Ms. Gutierrez continued her academic goals at the University of California, Los Angeles. Entering college as an undeclared major, her initial plans were to obtain a degree in Chemical Engineering. However, not knowing any engineers that could help mentor and guide her in the right direction, she decided to shift her focus towards another one of her passions − mathematics. While at UCLA, she had the opportunity to work as a teacher’s assistant for migrant education and was motivated to become a math teacher, something she knew was in high demand. Despite her passion for mathematics, it was difficult for her to adjust to the math classes at UCLA. “I did not have a study group although I tried. I was the youngest student, the only girl, and the only Latina in my class. I knew I had the ability to teach math and that getting to my goal was going to happen. It just wasn’t going to be easy.” Simultaneously, she would be required to attend an additional year of school to complete her mathematics degree, something that was not possible due to financial limitations.

Ultimately, Ms. Gutierrez graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. However, while at UCLA, she also obtained a Diversified Liberal Arts Certificate making it possible for her to teach Math, Science or History. Soon after graduating, she found herself in the classroom at Lorena Street Elementary School doing what she loves: teaching math. “I have often heard teachers say they hate math because it is hard. But I feel the opposite. I love teaching math simply because it is fun to share your results, try again if it’s not right, and ultimately figure it out multiple ways”. Ms. Gutierrez has also received her Masters of Arts Degree in Educational Administration from California State University, Los Angeles and is a National Board Certified Teacher.

In 2011 she became the teacher ambassador for the STEM-Up Initiative at Lorena Street Elementary. Since her involvement, Ms. Gutierrez has become a STEM champion of the program and has made it her personal goal to increase STEM awareness amongst her colleagues, students, and parents by using the resources she has gained as part of the STEM-Up initiative. Additionally, she has stated that her goal this year will be to develop a classroom climate filled with curiosity, creativity, and innovation.

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