Student Spotlight: Alexis Garrobo | Charlotte, NC

Alexis is a self proclaimed life-long learner. Her background is in print journalism and cultural anthropology. She is studying to be an elementary school teacher in the USC Rossier MAT program. She is in the January 2012 cohort and cannot wait to get in the classroom.

I have a confession to make: I never envisioned myself as a teacher. When it was mentioned as a prospective career, I shrugged it off. I wanted to be a journalist, so I worked as a newspaper reporter. I wanted to be involved in local government, so I worked as an assistant clerk of council. I wanted a career that was more than a job; I wanted to improve the world.

Then a funny thing happened: As I learned more about the world, I realized that everything goes back to education. To make the biggest impact on the community, to stand the greatest chance of changing the world in a positive way, to stir up the status quo, was to become a teacher.

So I shadowed at an elementary school in South Carolina’s Corridor of Shame, a swath of the state behind in every measurable way. Walking those halls, I was inspired. That day, I knew I wanted to become a teacher.

Looking for the right fit

I began looking at education programs. I knew that if I was going back to school, I wanted my master’s degree. I also knew that I wanted to go to a reputable, prestigious institution. However, I was not sure where I would be living, so I needed flexibility. I came across the USC Rossier School of Education, and it fit all of my criteria.

Rossier’s classes are academically demanding. They keep students informed about the best practices and teach us through modeling. Rossier’s professors and curriculum demand students construct knowledge together, and a platform to that end is provided through weekly meetings and small groups.

As I began classes at USC, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. I started working at an elementary school teaching information and media classes to K-5 students while running the library, all as a teacher’s assistant. I still do my clinical work at this school, and I began my guided practice with a third-grade teacher in March.

Plans after graduation

Being a good teacher is similar to the model of Rodgers’ reflective cycle: It requires self-reflection. As a teacher, I constantly consider how to improve, how to be more effective and how to be more engaging.

My coursework and experience as a teacher’s assistant have fortified my decision to be an educator. Students deserve teachers who are passionate and want to coach them in finding their best in life. I know that wherever I work as an educator, I will strive to create the best environment for students to learn and to help them along in their academic and personal pursuits.

There is another matter pushing me to be the best teacher I can: There need to be more Hispanic teachers. I myself never had a teacher from my ethnic background, and maybe that is why I never thought of teaching. There is a great disparity between the number of Hispanic students and the number of Hispanic teachers. In 2011, only six percent of public school teachers were Hispanic, and of those teachers, only 19 percent held a master’s degree.

While the lack of teachers from similar backgrounds might not be detrimental to students — I feel it wasn’t to me — it is a benefit to know your educator shares your culture. Because I never had someone like that, I want to be that role model for students — all students, whether we share cultural background or not.