Joel's Open Road

JOEL LAGUNA

Teacher
Thomas Starr King Middle School

“I really come to work with a smile on my face every single day, and that's what it's all about, right?”

INTERESTS:

Education Writing

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Education Inspiration Passion Values Experience Choices Character Confidence Desire

FOUNDATION:

Teaching / Mentoring

BIOGRAPHY:

  • While he was studying at UCLA, his friend asked him if he'd help him tutor some Spanish-speaking kids.
  • He fell in love with tutoring; realized that if he was willing do it on the weekends for free, he could definitely pursue teaching as a career.
  • Makes a point of not bringing out an "alter-ego" when he's in the classroom; says, "Who I am as a teacher is who I am in life."
  • When he first started, other teachers thought he was just the "fun" teacher who wasn't actually educating his kids.
  • Once his students' test scores turned out to be consistently better than the other students', those other teachers started realizing they should lighten up.
  • He was the first of his family to go to college, so his mother didn't always know how to support him through that experience.
  • That helps him relate to his students, many of whom are from low-income families, would also be first-generation college students.
  • Says he loves his job so much that he comes to work with a smile on his face every single day.

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