Alumni Feature: Richard Pelayo
October 6, 2016
“My experience as a Teach For America corps member reinforced for me that great teachers aren’t born, they’re made – and yet, delivering on a great education takes collective leadership.”
Richard Pelayo (’08), Richmond, CA
Richard is the Managing Director of GO Public Schools West Contra Costa.
Why did you join TFA? “I made the decision to step up to the front of the classroom because my personal experience told me that we, Latinxs, were missing in action. I am the son of Mexican immigrants, an Upward Bound alumnus, and first in my family to graduate from college. Joining Teach For America offered me the opportunity to take part in empowering others to access the same opportunities I did. Years later, I have stayed part of the Richmond education community because of the people I have met – students, teachers, parents, and community leaders.”
Favorite TFA Memory? “In 2010, I joined the staff of Lincoln Elementary in Richmond, CA, which became a magnet for Teach For America corps members and alumni. I remember meeting everyone for the first in the school staff room, which is a place that generates many memories for me.
The staff room was a common place for innovation and frustration. On a good day, you could hear brilliant minds discussing plans for data-driven instruction and tracking. The energy created in the room could awaken any person, even after a long day of being in the classroom. On your worst day, it was a place you could bury your face in your homemade sandwich to try to escape the pressures of your role. And of course, I will never forget the daily game of Russian roulette with copy machines. The staff room was a special place, and I miss seeing all the great school leaders who I shared it with.”
How has TFA impacted you? “My experience as a Teach For America corps member reinforced for me that great teachers aren’t born, they’re made – and yet, delivering on a great education takes collective leadership. While teaching, I became obsessed with the big picture of my students’ K-12 journey. With so many factors impacting students in and out of the classroom, it became clear that solutions need to come from and involve a community of parents, youth, educators, school and district staff, and community-based leaders. Teach For America gave me hope that we can inspire a generation of leaders to step up for children and educational justice. That belief inspired me to co-found GO Public Schools West Contra Costa to advocate for systemic change through leadership development and community engagement.”
College attended: San Diego State University
Community activities: San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus