Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First things first, a recap of life these past few years.


To think the last time I wrote in this blog was in 2011. Here we are in 2015, nearly 4 years after my last blog post.  Since then, a number of significant things happened that have led me to this current point in my life (get ready for my typical long and detailed posts):

  • 2011-2012: I worked a number of jobs in education to see if this was truly my passion. 
    • St. Joachim School (my old elementary school) as an Instructional Assistant for 4th Grade.  It was wonderful working with my old teachers and being back to what I considered 'home' for so long!
Halloween 2011 with these crazy kids and Mrs. Bristol, the head 4th Grade Teacher (who coincidentally was my science teacher when I was a student back in the day!). 

    • Sylvan Learning Center as a Remedial Math Instructor for students in various public elementary schools in Hayward. 
    • Boys Moving Forward as a Lead Tutor & Mentor at Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland; specifically in a weekly, after school reading and mentorship program. 
    • IES Language Foundation as an after school French Teacher at Warm Springs Elementary School in Fremont. 

  • 2012-2014: Was accepted into the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) dual teaching/Master of Education (M.Ed.) program.  Over the summer, I took classes at Notre Dame with those in my cohort (ACE 19!).  During the school year, we were each sent to our respective schools throughout the country and lived in communities with 1st and 2nd year teachers in our program. 

With two of my favorites, Maria and Miguel. An inseparable trio! 

ACE Summer wasn't all work.  Lots of fun was had.  This was when some of the ACE 19 guys decided to be cheerleaders during our annual PowderPuff football game.  Miss the crazy shenanigans with these folks! 

The people I'd be living with in my community down in Biloxi (technically, Pascagoula), Mississippi.  A good mix of 1st and 2nd year teachers!  This was during my first year of teaching. 

My community members for my second year of teaching.  So different from my first year, but loved them just as much! 

  • I was sent to St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi, Mississippi, having taught French I, II & III as well as a quarter-long enrichment course titled Introduction to World Languages.  I also served as the Assistant Girls' Volleyball Coach, Assistant Junior High Boys' Soccer Coach, moderator for the Junior Class/Prom Committee, moderator for Youth Legislature/Junior Youth Assembly, and moderator for the French Club as well as the French Honor Society. 

First home football game at my school.  Beautiful field! 

Fr. Ubald, survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, spoke to my first group of French III students about his experience surviving the tragedy, losing a majority of his family, and ultimately growing from this to help heal himself and others. Very touching experience. 

With my second group of French III students.   They were a riot.  Had so much fun with them, and all of them were such hard workers that wanted to learn the French language.  What a blessing! 

Mardi Gras in the South is unlike any other experience. So appreciative to have been a part of this for the past couple of years! 

For a Spirit Week, there was one day where students were asked to dress up like a teacher.   Naturally, a few of us teachers decided to dress like the students! 

In addition to teaching, it's almost an expectation that you'd be involved in other extracurricular activities.  I was very fortunate to be involved as Assistant Head Coach for the Girls' Volleyball team.  Granted, I knew very little about volleyball but it was great watching them grow, win some games, and ultimately -- laugh a ton!  

  • In July 2014, I graduated with my Master of Education (M.Ed.) from the University of Notre Dame.  It was particularly special because my immediate family made it out to Notre Dame and were able to witness the beauty and specialness of this place.   And to celebrate with those in my cohort (ACE 19!) for one last time before we all went our separate ways. 
At the end of our second summer, each second year teacher has to create a visual display of a specific unit we've done during our first year.  A lot of time was spent on this -- detailing all the lesson plans, discussing the context of the unit, assessments, how we took differentiation into account of our planning, educational psychology, etc.  

Special thanks to Maria's Tita for taking the above two pictures! Captures the weekend so well. 
  • 2014-2015: I stayed for another year at St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi, Mississippi, having taught French II and French III, as well as a couple of upper division English elective classes (World Literature, Creative Writing & Speech).  I was also able to mentor the new ACE French teacher, Leo!  

  • As well, for the summers of 2014 and 2015, I worked as a summer teaching fellow at Ensemble Scolaire Père Basile Moreau in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Notre Dame has had a strong partnership with the school after the 2010 earthquake, providing infrastructure and monetary support to rebuild the school (which was badly damaged, and luckily, the kids were out of the building as the earthquake was happening).  After, the school identified needs to improve their English curriculum and incorporate more technology into the classroom.  
    • For my first summer (2014), I was the first fellow and conducted the primary, secondary, and teachers' English classes in a summer camp-type setting, as well as trained the first primary school English teacher at this school.  
For my primary school kids, on July 4th, they learned a little about the U.S. and create American flags in celebration of this great holiday.  =)

Throughout the summer, I had a little help from people that would visit for a week or two.  In this picture, there were two American high school students that accompanied their mother (who works for Notre Dame) and helped me out for a day. 
    • For my second summer (2015), things changed a bit.  I helped coordinate the fellowship program and now had 2 American fellows and 2 Irish fellows -- all teachers back in their respective countries.  Not only did we conduct the English classes, but we had two other projects: use the tablets at the school and the Library For All eBook database to further reading comprehension skills for primary students; and use Khan Academy to better improve the math skills of students, all the while collaborating with math teachers to ensure that they could use this resource in their classes to track individual student progress and provide more individualized help.  Lots of trial and error, but a great learning experience!  We were able to meet a variety of people -- Haitians and expats alike -- who were here to make some positive changes in Haiti (orphanages, USAID, different NGOs, etc.).  And unlike last summer, we were able to visit many places (Jacmel, Cap-Haiïtien, around Port-au-Prince, and hiking in Kenscoff/Furcy) as well as meet various organizations, orphanages, and NGO workers in Haiti. 

The top photo is with students from our literacy class. This year, I was a little more focused on the English class for the teachers. A must smaller class but definitely dedicated, hilarious, and we just had a great time. 

We also had many opportunities for weekend excursions.  Of course, one of my favorites being Cormier Plage in Cap-Haitien! 

  • Of course, I can forget to mention a few important events that happened along the way to some of the most impactful people in my life: 

August 2012: Our LMU FamBam gets a little bigger. Pam is the first to get married and it was such a beautiful celebration! 

September 2012: My cousin Michelle gets married. Not only was it so personal and emotional, but it was beyond elaborate and elegant. Wedding ceremony at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco, followed by their reception at the Gold Room in the Fairmont Hotel. They even had a second reception (Vietnamese) the following evening! 

December 2014: Our St. Mary's College High School 10-Year Class Reunion! No wonder our class left such an impact on the school -- what an incredible group of individuals. Looking forward to the next reunion! 

December 2014: A onesie de Leon Christmas. I post this because as much as we're all growing up, I love that we can still start new traditions. 

May 2015: David's graduation from San Jose State. Another engineer in the family! 

September 2015: Grandma's 89th Birthday. Four generations (Olivia Isla!) in one picture, and I couldn't be any happier. Looking forward to Grandma's 90th Birthday Celebration next year! 

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