Teresa Sanchez, one of LOHS’s favorite Spanish teachers, recently accepted the position of Equity and Family Engagement Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). Sanchez has taught Spanish for a total of 28 years: 11 years outside of LOSD and over 15 years at LOHS. Although she will miss teaching, she is excited to begin this new phase of her career.
As the Equity and Family Engagement TOSA, it is her job to help implement Equity and Culture Initiatives in the district. This includes many essential responsibilities: facilitating the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee, organizing district staff equity team, guiding school-based equity and diversity councils, supporting principals and staff when issues and allegations of discrimination arise and many more.
While there was previously a DEI director, this specific position is new as of this school year. After two years of having the DEI committee the district decided to make changes and have an Equity and Family Engagement TOSA instead.
When this position was announced, Sanchez applied and interviewed for it. Living as a woman of color in the U.S. herself, she shares similar feelings and experiences as others in the district. “I have felt marginalized at times, I have felt like I do not belong and I know how painful it is to feel that way,” Sanchez said. Her care for her students and their education, as well as her experiences have led her to want to do everything in her power to prevent “any child [from feeling] this pain or disconnecting from education because of it.”
With the opportunity to fight for equality that this role gives her, Sanchez hopes to make changes and create a positive impact on the mentality in the district. “I am hoping that there is a shift of mindset and culture where respect, equity and inclusivity become the way we do business at LOSD.” Spreading awareness is also another big goal for her as she approaches this issue and will do so by building capacity so equity work is done every day by everyone.
She is looking forward to working with the many stakeholders in the district and seeing marginalized students and their families benefit from her work. To continue her educational career, she will be part of an administrative team that allows her to contribute her perspectives on more issues involving equity and inclusivity.
After years of teaching and enlightening students about the language and her own stories, she has many memories that hold special places in her heart. By far, her favorite part about teaching was getting to know her students personally. She has loved getting to know each and every one and learning about their personalities and “special gifts.” One thing she has done to give her students the best experience is creating a safe place for them in the classroom. She loved the challenge and hoped that class was “a place where they could be themselves and hopefully felt seen, heard, respected and valued.”
Additionally, one of the most important jobs of a teacher is to make sure students are learning and it is rewarding for them to know that they are having a positive effect on their students. Sanchez is no exception. “I also loved seeing the progress that students made in acquiring a new language and learning about a different culture,” she said.
As of completing her administrative license and teaching Spanish for over 25 years she is ready to help her community in this new way, but will not cease to miss her students and their outgoing personalities each day. Her students will miss her just as much.
Sanchez is beloved by all her students for her stories, her creative class activities and contagious laugh. Her fun personality and unique sense of humor has always made class entertaining, while her ability to make class exciting by choosing different activities everyday keeps her students engaged and has made her a great teacher. Many students confirm that she is one of the best teachers they have ever had. She earned students’ trust and became a reliable person they can count on. Sanchez has brought so much energy and positivity to her classes and anyone who was lucky enough to have her as a teacher. She is the light that keeps on shining and has made Spanish classes an unforgettable experience!