The Graduate School’s social justice lens and commitment to serving students, plus the unique opportunity to participate in a year-long practicum, made the secondary teaching program the perfect match for Christian’s aspirations.
Secondary Teaching ’22, chose to become a teacher because of the powerful impact his own teachers had on him. The Graduate School’s social justice lens and commitment to serving students, plus the unique opportunity to participate in a year-long practicum, made its secondary teaching program the perfect match for his aspirations.Christian Ortiz,
“I believe that education plays a significant role in shaping the future of our world; that is what inspired me to apply to this program,” says Christian. “The emphasis is always on the students who we serve, and I have never doubted that my professors and peers believe that education is just as significant as I do.”
As is the case throughout the graduate school, the secondary teaching program’s deep commitment to the school’s social justice mission is present in every discussion, and students are always the focus of the conversation.
“Our professors are preparing us to be the type of teachers that our current and future students deserve–this means being able to reach all different types of students in meaningful ways.”
Christian has found a supportive community and sense of belonging amongst his classmates and professors, and credits the small cohort model with making it easier to get to know everyone on a personal level.
“My cohort has probably been my favorite aspect of this entire experience. Graduate school and student teaching have been really difficult, but it doesn’t feel like I am going through it alone! Whenever I am having a rough day or feel like I need some help or advice, I know that someone will have my back. Ever since the beginning of this program I have felt an overwhelming amount of love and support from my cohort, and I am incredibly grateful for that.”
Now fully immersed in his 11th grade classroom at Parkrose High, Christian is beginning to realize the incredible impact that he already has as an educator. Each week he asks his students to reflect on their learning experience, and recently asked them to pick one student in the class to celebrate.
“Everyone wrote really thoughtful and kind things about one another; reading through them made me realize what a unique and powerful role I had as a teacher to build community in my classroom. These reflections made me see that the work I have done to bring my students closer together has paid off in some way, which made me excited to see all of the small communities I could help build in the future.
Looking forward to beginning his teaching career next fall, Christian reflects that incorporating social justice into the classroom is no simple task and that it needs to exist in various aspects of a teacher’s practice in order to be effective. This can include creating agreed upon norms as a class, incorporating a range of diverse perspectives and materials into the curriculum, and utilizing activist projects to get students involved in their communities and have them see that they can make a difference.
Most of all, Christian wants to be a reflective teacher who will make changes in his practice to always ensure he is meeting his students’ evolving needs.