Master of Arts in Teaching Multiple Subject Candidate Natalie Juan-Tapia has received the 2017-2018 President's Educator Fellowship, presented by Susan Toma-Berge on November 7, 2017.
About Natalie Juan-Tapia
I have always loved reading. (My love for books can be seen in the five bookcases in my family’s living room, plus however many books are currently living under my bed). Reading was a way to learn new things, to travel to different places, and to learn how other people think and feel. Reading, my mother always told me, was vital to achieving the American Dream. If you knew how to read, you would always be able to look for the help you needed.
We live in an ever increasing diverse society, and both for our students and for teachers, empathy, the ability to put ourselves in another’s place, is important to foster mutual respect and a love of learning. Each student comes into the classroom with different needs and talents, and nurturing a love of reading helps students develop empathy and curiosity. A love of learning comes from teachers ready to answer every student’s question of “why,” and this same curiosity is essential to develop empathy, cooperation, clear communication, critical thinking, and experimentation.
In the age of digital media, it becomes vital for our students and teachers to not only use the new technology, but to also be literate consumers of these media. The Internet can be a democratizing force as long as there is equal access. Information that was once inaccessible is now rapidly downloaded anywhere, anytime, but with this speed there is potential for error and misinformation, and the demand for instant news leaves less time for research and analysis. Learning to cite proper resources and taking the time to verify results and understanding conclusions is as important in science as in language arts. In an increasingly visual society, children need to be able to analyze images and video as well as a literary passage. Once again, we cannot deny the need to develop both empathy and critical thinking skills in our students.
As a teacher, I would love for students to be exposed to as many subject matters as possible. No academic subject can be taught in isolation - there will always be overlaps. I know that as an undergraduate here at UCI, I was always curious about different subject matters, and I took as many classes as I was able to. Across academic subjects, I saw how important diversity and representation can be – a diverse pool of thinkers and doers can lead to amazing discoveries and conversations. When I volunteered with elementary and middle school students, I was always surprised at how many did not enjoy reading. As a teacher, I hope to foster this love of reading by making sure the student finds the right book, not just read books that are assigned. I want my students to develop the skills that will help them look for answers and find even more questions.
I know that anything is possible with help, whether it be a friend, a parent, a teacher, or a good book. I am the proud daughter of immigrants, and I am the first person in my family to graduate high school (and college, and attend graduate school), and I am thankful for the amazing support system I have. I also know that I have a responsibility to my community to give back, (something my parents always told me), and I hope to be able to help as many students and fellow teachers in any way I can.