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ATENEO MATH GRADUATE RECEIVES AWARD FOR NYC PUBLIC SCHOOL

TEACHERS

An Ateneo de Manila University graduate is one of seven recipients of the 2014 Sloan
Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics.

Aristides Julmarx Galdones Uy (BS Mathematics 1999) teaches algebra, pre-calculus,


and geometry at the International Community High School (ICHS) in the South Bronx,
New York City where all of the students are recent immigrants. The announcement was
made in late 2014.

An immigrant to the US, Uy could have taught in a specialized school, but opted to
teach at the ICHS in order to be of greater help. Described as a brilliant
mathematician, Uy is said to combine a highly structured, but participatory, classroom
approach with innovative, hands-on projects. A former student who is now in college
says, 'He loves his job and lives for his students, and because of that, he became the
role model I needed. I owe him everything..

The Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics are given out
yearly by the Fund for the City of New York and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, aiming
to recognize creative mathematics and science teachers who achieve superb results
and inspire young people to pursue careers in science and mathematics.

Any science or mathematics teacher who has taught in one of New York City's 422
public high schools for at least five years may be nominated for the awards by
principals, supervisors, colleagues, students, former students, parents and others who
are familiar with the teacher's work.
Elisa Guerra tells the story of
how she became an
outstanding teacher

My story is not important by


itself. My story is just one
among many that weave each
other around what it means to be
a teacher. But my story, as well
as the much greater stories of
my fellow finalists, gives this
prize a human face, -50 faces,
actually- a blow of living breath
to the real story behind: Varkey
Foundation is out to make the
teaching profession one of the
most prestigious around the world.

It is vastly said that teachers are key in society. At least from the lips out, nobody could
doubt that educators are truly important. But in reality, being a teacher is not exactly
what many people have in mind when they think about a successful career. Like being a
doctor, or a lawyer. Well, at least in my home country, Mexico.

I did not dream about becoming a teacher myself. Oh yes, of course, in my childhood
play I was often a teacher. A good one. I sat all my dolls in a perfectly lined little
classroom made with blankets and pillows, and taught them to read. Oh, what a
beauty. My perfect plastic students were always smiling, always paying attention, and
yes sir, always quiet. Well, it was kind of boring too. I wished that my dolls could come
alive and misbehave a little. Just a little.

But then I grew up. Fast. And by the end of High School, I was contemplating a different
career path. I want to be a writer, I told anyone who cared to ask the perennial
question: What are you going to do? So I wanted to study literature. And become a
poet, a novelist. Well, you can guess the reaction. Being a writer is difficult. You are
going to starve to death. And just about a second before perishing of hunger, you will
have to become a teacher, you will teach Spanish in an obscure and forgotten school
somewhere.

You will have to become a Teacher. Like some kind of punishment for failure.
Well, life took me on a hilly, curvy road. Oddly enough, first I became a teacher, and
then, precisely because I was a teacher, I became a writer.

In my youth, one of my poetry books was published. I even won a national poetry
contest. My poems were included in a handful of anthologies. But no, I was not able to
make a living out of my writing. At least not then.
My road to teaching was sort of accidental. When I became a mother, I got a deep
longing for teaching my children about all the beautiful things in our world. Art, music,
books, culture. I have always been an avid reader, and I yearned for my kids to derive
joy from a good book. So my children became my first students, and, may I say, my first
teachers -on how to teach. As they got older, I was not able to find in my hometown the
kind of school I had envisioned for them. So I founded my own. And that is how Colegio
Valle de Filadelfia was born.

From my childhood bedroom with the quiet dolls, I moved to my living room with
eventually three chatty, adventurous little ones, and later to the real classroom:
preschool, elementary, junior high. My school grew alongside my children. Valle de
Filadelfia extended to other Mexican cities and even to another country: Costa Rica.

Years went by, and many projects took shape. When our secondary school opened, I
began to teach History and Geography, and for that purpose I created a complete series
of online curricula and materials -in a flipped classroom manner. From the very
beginning, these resources have been freely available for teachers and students from
all over the country. All the videos are posted on YouTube, and all the materials can be
downloaded from our schools website. Today I teach technology to 8th and 9th graders.
Its so much fun to learn alongside them. From producing videos to designing websites
to experimenting with apps and video games, we are all having a blast.

One of my most beloved projects has been creating an early education curriculum to
focus on reading, writing and growing up global. Beginning in Preschool, our children
explore a different culture or country every month. This same project includes
opportunities to discover and enjoy diverse art and music. At school, our kids learn to
play the violin, to paint, as they also embark in different workshops according to their
interests.

In 2014, after seven years of knocking on several publishers doors, Pearson Education
Mexico published my series of textbooks for pre-schoolers and their educators. A total
of 12 books were born last summer. I could never have achieved this without the
experience gained after years of teaching. The books are now in several Latin American
countries, and we even shipped some to Spain.