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Hispanic Heritage Month Teacher Spotlight – Denis Alvarez Academies at South Mountain

In recognition of  Hispanic Heritage Month, the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation and ElevateEdAZ invite you to learn about Denis Alvarez, a first-year Academies at South Mountain biology teacher who proudly celebrates her Hispanic culture.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I was born in Navojoa, Sonora, and have been raised in South Phoenix. I love to check out coffee shops and restaurants in the area with friends. I love these places because they serve as an area to relax, connect, plan or work. Cafecito at any time of the day is one of the perks! I also enjoy reading and working out. They are a great way to release some stress and my form of self-care.

Q: How was your educational journey as a Hispanic student?

A: I was introduced to the possibility of higher education for the first time in 7th grade at Valley View Elementary (Now Valley View Leadership Academy). It is thanks to my teachers and mentors that I was able to reach higher education. They introduced me to opportunities like scholarships and programs that allowed me to get past my biggest obstacle to ASU, the financial burden. Being a part of an organization on campus helped me feel like I belong on that campus. It connected me to people and friends that had similar experiences to me and were like-minded.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job and why?

A: My favorite part of teaching is making connections with my students through science. Most of them wonder if they’ll ever need to know this outside of the classroom, and I love talking about how we use it in the real world. For example, we recently had a lesson on populations which I was able to relate to the Census Survey and how that survey affects our representation.

Q: How do you incorporate your culture into your classroom?

A: I incorporate it through my classroom resources, classroom décor, and music. I have a few posters and books around the classroom in Spanish and that support Hispanic culture as well as immigrants. This being my first year teaching, I still have a lot of material to build up. I hope to be able to incorporate it in my lessons as well.

Q: Why is Hispanic Heritage Month important to you?

A: Hispanic Heritage Month is important to me because it gives us a chance to highlight our contributions in all aspects to the rest of the U.S. We can share our many cultures, raise awareness of social issues, and learn about our history.

Q: What is your favorite part of being Hispanic?

A: My favorite part of being Hispanic is the food and the music! These two things connect us regardless of what country we are from.

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