The Inspiration of Hispanic Teachers Making Big Differences in the Classroom

Osiel Gonzalez is a Cuban-American teacher at Boston International Newcomers’ Academy, a public school made up mostly of immigrant students from around the world.

An immigrant himself, Osiel knows firsthand what it’s like to be the new kid in school whose English is far from perfect. It’s part of the reason he spends so much time building meaningful relationships with his students.

Osiel is one of the many remarkable teachers profiled for Nuestros Maestros (Our Teachers) – a Univision storytelling campaign in partnership with Pearson to celebrate teachers in the Hispanic community.

Hispanics make up almost a quarter of the student population. Yet, just seven percent of teachers are Hispanic.

“It matters that Hispanic students have teachers like them,”says Stephen Keppel, Univision’s Vice President of Social Impact. “When students can relate to teachers, they become more involved in school, their grades improve and their graduation rates go up.”

A Pattern Emerges

It all began, Stephen explains, with research.

Pearson and Univision talked with Latino parents and teachers in communities across the country to understand their regard for teachers and education.

Almost immediately, two powerful patterns emerged.

“We found that many educators were inspired to enter the profession because of a great teacher or professor,” Stephen says.

“We also found that despite seeing education as the pathway to the American Dream, most Hispanic parents don’t view teaching as an aspirational profession for their children.”

What better way to lift perceptions than profile important teachers and their work in the classroom?

“We realized that we had a perfect platform to share relevant stories about teachers and reach a huge audience.”

“It’s rare for news organizations to put teachers at the forefront,” Stephen says. “And our audience sees Univision as a trusted partner in the Hispanic community.”

Changing Students’ Lives

Another inspiring teacher who was profiled for Nuestros Maestros is Illinois’ 2017 Teacher of the Year, Ricky Castro.

Ricky grew up in a rough neighborhood outside Chicago and got caught up in gang life as a young man.

“One night, Ricky had just finished patrolling a corner for his gang in a dangerous neighborhood,” Stephen recounts. “He stepped away to head home.”

“Ten minutes later, a man was shot at that very corner – and Ricky decided to walk a new path.”

He turned to his teachers for guidance.

“Caring teachers helped him turn his life around,” Stephen says.

Now, he and several former members of the same gang are supportive teachers who strive to prevent students from dropping out of school.

Connecting with Communities

Nuestros Maestros has been running since September.

Though it’s still too early to assess the campaign’s impact, Stephen wants it to start a conversation about Hispanic students’ success in school and later in life.

“When we talk to parents and students about the need for more Hispanic teachers, there is always a very positive response,” Stephen says.

“We hope that by sharing these stories, a future generation of teachers will feel inspired to make a difference in their communities.”