This word has followed me around since I was 5. Around that time, I fell in love with books—The Bernstein Bears, Barbar, Madeline—words took me to a whole new place, and I wanted to be close to them. “Someday, I will be a writer,” was what I began to tell people when asked.
I took some detours along the way. I thought I wanted to be an actress, but while pursuing a theater degree, in addition to studying English, I realized what I truly loved were stories. I loved talking about stories and hearing other people’s stories. I loved analyzing the hidden treasures in stories. I wanted to hear from the voices who were normally hidden.
Eventually, this love of stories turned into an English teaching career, which I am forever grateful for. Still, I tried to write because it was the best way I knew to process the world. An amazing professor at USC, Luis Alfaro, once told me that if I could write about something, it meant that I was fully understanding (and in some cases, able to control) it. It meant that I was making it a part of myself in a powerful way.
So, I kept writing on my own. I shared it online. Folks in my PLC and PLN gave me love and feedback. Bill Ivey told me I deserved to make space for myself (a conversation I still replay in my head when I’m scared), and helped me set up my first website. I wrote my heart out in a tiny, too-hot apartment in Honolulu, trying to understand what my place in the classroom meant in an ever-evolving world I was learning so much about.
Then, one day, I got a message from Ross Brenneman that changed my life. He had read my work and offered me my first professional job as a writer blogging for EdWeek Teacher. He offered me space and a platform to share stories to a wider audience than I’d ever imagined an oversensitive Mexipina girl living in Hawai’i would be able to get. I learned so much in the process. In writing, I became a better teacher because, as Prof. Alfaro had taught me, it pushed me to understand who I was as an educator. Writing here pushed me to analyze my practice nearly every week and ask what I was doing to be better. Writing here helped me reflect and understand my relationships with my students and with myself as their teacher. Writing here even allowed me to open up about my sexual assault, including telling my family for the first time after over a decade. In writing, I began to understand and own the narrative of myself as a teacher. It was a powerful platform that fueled me to keep writing, keep telling stories, and keep trying to improve, learn, and grow.
If I seem longer-winded and sentimental, please, forgive me. , which is always harder than you think it will be.
After four years, I’m saying goodbye to this blog. Not to Education Week, whose staff are being lovely and letting me continue to write for their editorial spaces, but this is where I say goodbye to “The Intersection.” I’m leaving with a lot of feelings (beyond my own maudlin reflections): gratitude to Education Week and its amazing staff for not only the space but for editing and encouraging me; friends, and readers who commented with feedback, thoughts, and support. I am especially grateful to people who guest wrote pieces. One of the biggest gifts of this space was having a place where I could share the voices of others. From student voices shared with me by other amazing teachers, to empowering my own students, to sharing interviews with educators whose voices I value, this has always been a place where I tried to uplift a very small chunk of the amazing work that I see day in and day out from educators who deserve to be followed and lauded and, unfortunately, are sometimes not. Writing is a way to process and take ownership of a story, and reading is the gateway to understanding, connecting, and growing from the stories you hear.
I tried to come up with a post that would sum up what I had learned while writing this blog for the past four years. I tried to distill 150 entries into some digestible list of lessons that I could share with folks, that they could take into their classroom tomorrow to make their lives a little easier. Maybe it’s the beginning-of-the-school-year fog or I’m too sentimental about my own work, but I struggled to pull something like that together.
The thing I wanted to share most about my time working here was how important it is to listen to, honor, and share stories with our students and with each other. We must help our students— particularly those from historically oppressed backgrounds—tell their stories. We must also help our students—particularly those coming from a place of privilege—to listen and respect the stories of others. So many of the issues addressed here are because, at some point, the dominant society picked a single story that ultimately silenced another group of people. The way we disrupt that process is to find and share many stories from as many diverse groups as possible and center the conversation on their narratives. In doing so, we can disrupt the histories of power that have held us back for generations.
Ultimately, this space would not exist without the people and moments along the way who told me that, even when society said otherwise, my story was worthwhile. When I named myself as “writer,” they listened to and valued the story I was telling. Along the way, people asked to hear that story, shared it, and supported it. Their belief helped create a sense of security in who I was and am and helped me understand that my voice was worth sharing.
This sense of support and love is something all of our students deserve. It is what I am striving for in every word I type, everything I read, and every exchange I have with a kid each day.
This is the end of this story, but our students are already writing new ones. I can’t wait to read what’s next.
The opinions expressed in The Intersection: Culture and Race in Schools are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.