January 2, 2013

Teachers Talk Back: Catherine Aguilar

Catherine Aguilar is a 7th grade science teacher at Community Charter Middle School in Lakeview Terrace, CA. 

Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I decided to become a teacher when I was little - instead of playing house I would play school. As a kid, all I knew is that I loved what my teachers did for me and other students and I wanted to do that too. It wasn’t until I was a senior in college, however, that I realized everything I really enjoyed in college involved teaching. From mentoring my students and teaching them guitar and dance, to helping classmates, to acting as an orientation counselor, the times when I was teaching were my best. That’s when it finally occurred to me: I’m meant to be a teacher!

What drives you now?

I always dreamed about having a class of students I could call my own and seeing the impact that I could have on students. I got to see that so clearly last year with my students. There they were, going through extreme hormonal and emotional changes - middle school is such a weird time in kids’ lives and they just need an advocate to be empathetic. I got to be that for my kids. Seeing that I could be a real part of helping kids find self-confidence and find their way during a difficult time is an amazing feeling and made me want to keep doing just that.

What is March as One and what drove you to organize the march?

March As One is a teacher-led community march to bring awareness to the achievement gap and the systemic barriers that contribute to it.

As a collective group of inspired teachers, we want people to know and understand what our kids are experiencing. Right now, we don’t feel empowered as individuals, teachers and students alike. So we want to build a collective to help teachers, students and communities feel like they have the power to make change happen.

People have often called me naïve because I believe that every kid can achieve at high levels. It really bothers me when I hear anyone say students can’t do something, because I so strongly believe that every student can and I pour myself into that.

This march is coming together as a community, and empowering students to start advocating for themselves in school and in life.

Why are you an E4E member?

I’m inspired by a movement that puts students first and shows me that I can advocate for my students beyond the classroom—experiences that will push me to continue to grow and learn.