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Bringing Empathy, Care, Love, and Understanding to My Students

After experiencing educational inequity herself, Josephine Piñeda (Los Angeles ‘12) joined TFA to make a difference and today continues as an assistant principal to guide the path of students in the community where she grew up.

By The TFA Editorial Team

March 8, 2019

‘You Really Changed My Life’

Josephine Piñeda (Los Angeles ‘12) is an Assistant Principal at Alliance Marine-Innovation and Technology 6-12 Complex, but her students still remember her from her days as a corps member--and the difference she made in their education. Josephine inspired her students to get excited about math and science as a teacher, and today, Josephine continues to shape the lives of these students as a leader in her school.

My name is Josephine Piñeda and I am a TFA alum, 2012. I taught in South Central Los Angeles at Alliance Middle Academy #7. I taught sixth grade math and science.  I helped found this school, Alliance MIT. After that, I became an Assistant Principal.

I grew up in South Central Los Angeles close to USC. I went to public schools most of my life. It was easy to get lost in a crowd of students. I didn't really know what inequity was until one of my teachers in tenth grade actually starting talking to us about what was going on. It opened up my eyes to, wow, this isn't everyone's experience. I just kind of got unlucky a little bit in the world, and because of where I'm from, because of how much money my parents make, that's going to determine my future.

One of the reasons I wanted to do Teach for America was because I thought if students knew what they were up against in our communities, if we could do something about it, then, it would be a game changer for everyone. My students still remember me and they were like, "You got me excited about science, you got me excited about math. I didn't think I could be excited about it, and now I've been so successful in those areas. You really changed my life.”

Empathy, love and understanding, caring, all of that is so important when you're an educator. It really does shape your experience as a teacher, but also the experience of students. Especially being part of TFA you know that you're going into it, like, I want to make a difference, I'm going to make a difference. I see it in my TFA corps members now that they really do put in extra hours when they don't need to, because they care about their students, because they want to see them do well.