Teachers have an impact both locally and nationally in the work they do for students. This work can occur in the classroom or through education policy, which is always developing as the effort teachers put into pushing for their students' success never stops. Yvette Peña relates to both of these education outlets as she teaches students in her classroom while also being involved as a 2021-2022 Teach Plus Texas Policy Fellow.
Yvette graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology from Trinity University in 2018. During that time, she also took many education and urban studies classes but ultimately did not minor in either of them. She then graduated from the Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) program with certification in Social Studies (Grades 7-12) in 2018. Since graduating from the MAT, she has also gained certifications in English 7-12 and English as a Second Language.
Yvette has a lot of great memories from her year in the MAT, but her favorite part was getting the opportunity to work as an intern with a mentor teacher. This allowed her to co-teach in a classroom where she got to experience all aspects of a teacher’s day. “Getting to see the other side of the process has helped me continue to grow,” Yvette said. “It has reminded me of how much there still is to learn about being a teacher.”
Yvette encourages potential candidates to do the program, even if they are hesitant about applying. The level of support she felt she received in the MAT was unmatchable. “Even now, I still pick up the phone every once in a while and call my professors or my mentor teachers and get their insight on whatever I come across in my classroom,” Yvette said.
Yvette is currently teaching at the same placement and same school where she interned during the MAT program. She teaches ninth-grade English at the International School of the Americas (NEISD) in San Antonio. She is also the sponsor of the Diversity Club and a member of the staff Equity Committee.
The thing Yvette loves most about her current job is her students. Being a teacher gives her the opportunity to see students grapple with big questions and explore how they fit into the world. “I love helping students define their identities and discover how they can make lasting change in their communities,” she said. “Year after year, I stay impressed at how students are so engaged with the world around them.”
In the next few years, Yvette hopes to bring more community involvement into her classroom. Her goal is to show students real-world applications of the content they are learning in their own backyard. Yvette has also been interested in education policy. Right now, she is a policy fellow with Teach Plus Texas, an organization that instructs teachers about equity in education policy. Yvette has enjoyed seeing how policy interacts with her classroom and can see herself pivoting to that side of education in the next few years.