Having lived in many places across the United States, Chicago holds a special place in Andraya’s heart. Chicago welcomed her family as immigrants from Iran in the 1970s. Andraya seized the opportunity to attend college in the area and decided to make Chicago her home.
She attributes her love of learning and passion for equity to her family. She began teaching at a young age, “helping” her mother teach English language classes for refugee families. After graduating from Wheaton College with a degree in psychology, Andraya began teaching diverse learners at a high school in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago.
While teaching, Andraya led a small reading and writing class for the freshman students. She loved finding stories that helped the class reflect and learn about their identities and the identities of others. It was incredible to see the growth of the students in such a short amount of time and watching them move out of the small class within one year. Andraya also served as the special education case manager at her school before transitioning to a role centered on building partnerships and supporting community coalitions, working on early childhood and trauma informed education.
Having worked in situations where policies made no sense and teachers lacked a way to change them, Andraya joined Educators for Excellence with a tremendous respect for working with educators and a passion for bringing their views to the table.