One In A Million: May 2024: Andrea Perez

OIAM 202324 May

Name: Andrea Perez 

School & District: Thew, Tempe School District

Grade(s) you teach: Third Grade

How many students in your class(es) this academic year? 27 students

How long have you been a teacher? 8 years

What made you get into the teaching profession?

My younger brother Christian loved school growing up. Christian has cerebral palsy and when I was in high school, Christian had to have surgery on his hips and he had to miss school for a few months. I decided to ask his teacher what I can do with him at home to help him continue learning at home until he was able to go back to school. Helping my brother and seeing how much he enjoyed learning made me want to become a teacher! He visits my class one day every year, and my students get to meet him and learn how to interact with someone who has a disability. They learn to see how much they actually have in common. My dream is to one day have him be a volunteer in my class frequently when we live in the same state.

Who was your most inspirational teacher & why?

Mrs. Callan, my 3rd grade teacher, and Mrs. Mavres, my 4th grade teacher, made me love school and really taught me to be creative!

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?

I think a big challenge is consistency and lack of discipline. I know behaviors can be a case to case basis, but when extreme behaviors happen, especially violent ones, following through on these behaviors is different every time. When students know discipline or consequences are sometimes non-existent, this also causes them to be aware of this and voice this to adults when they are not following expectations. In this case, it’s important for schools, parents, teachers, and the district to be on the same page.

How do these issues affect your day to day?

Consistency and management are important because when this isn’t present, it can disrupt the day and focusing on one student when you have 24+ students is difficult. Also, students with in school suspension get put in other classrooms for the day so we deal with extra students. On top of that, we also split classes frequently so we get 4-5 students from another grade level for the day. And if you have teammates with management problems or long-term subs, then your class is constantly interrupted with noise level and behavior issues.

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?

I am glad we do not require students to bring supplies of their own to school and that we can support families by providing all supplies for them. However, I do spend more than the $250 tax deduction each year to provide snacks, extra supplies, materials, furniture, and incentives in my classroom.

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different from reality?

One of
the biggest challenges that is not addressed is classroom management. It is hard to teach to someone that has never been in the classroom. What prepared me more than any of my college classes was having the opportunity to be in several classrooms before graduating. By the time I graduated I was able to see maybe 20 different types of classrooms. This helped me see different populations and management tools/styles that I could start implementing in my own classroom. Another challenge is learning about the science of reading but realizing that everyone else did not receive the same instruction.

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?

I think teachers burn out so quickly because we are not given the time to complete everything we actually have
to do. People do not realize how much planning, creating, printing, organizing, and analyzing teachers have to do outside of the classroom. On our days off we get pulled into district PDs that are not helpful instead of being given time to plan for the quarter coming up so we are ready for our students. I know most of us stay after school, come in hours before school starts, work on weekends, and still have to work on breaks to have time to get to everything we need to do and are expected to do.

Do you typically feel appreciated or recognized as a teacher?

There are some days where I feel appreciated and sometimes coworkers or admin reach out to tell me I am appreciated. I would love to also read the nomination letters I got from my coworkers for this! However, I also feel that my experience gets taken advantage of and a lot of work falls on me. Even though I have spoken out about getting help, the
issue was never revisited, and I still do most of the work for my grade level.

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?

Talking and receiving support from my coworkers, talking to my family in Florida on FaceTime, or relaxing at home and watching shows with my fiancé Dylan.

What are some of the most thoughtful & effective ways parents & the
community can show gratitude?

Providing feedback or thanking teachers. I felt some of this during parent teacher conferences. Some parents made an effort to say thank you and that their students enjoyed being in my classroom.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

My wish is to have students feel safe and supported and loved at school.

What additional support or supplies do you need in your classroom & who do people contact if they want to help out?

Our district provides basic supplies for our classroom so that students and families do not have to worry about bringing supplies to school. Most of what I spend my money on in my classroom goes towards snacks for my students to have each day. I also spend money on incentives for our prizes that we have every week to motivate students to earn points in class, like erasers, squishy toys, and treasure box items. I also purchase items to make our
classroom environment more comfortable, such as lamps for calmer lighting and flexible seating.

What types of items/prizes are meaningful to you to win/be gifted?

I am big on experiences, so anything that I can do to spend time with my family or fiancé is meaningful for me!

What is/are your FAVORITE/PREFERRED…

  • College/University/Alma Mater? University of Florida (Go Gators!)
  • Color? Green
  • Food/restaurant? Barrio Queen, OHSO, Cheesecake Factory
  • Music/group/artist? Hozier, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles
  • Sport/athletics team? Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Snack & Beverage? Chocolate pretzels, water or hot green tea
  • Pastime/hobby? running, cycling, hiking, traveling, crafts
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Growing the Tree

Million Dollar Teacher Tree was first developed in a classroom by students in a program called, Next Generation Service Corps at Arizona State University in December of 2017. These students were tasked by Lloyd Hopkins, founder of Million Dollar Teacher project with developing a project that can potentially become an integral part in helping MDTP achieve its mission. The group eventually developed the original prototype for Million Dollar Teacher Tree—a cutout dollar sign that would be placed in surrounding businesses near the partner school. The idea was pitched to staff members of MDTP during the last of their class, and the project was picked up by MDTP as a new pilot program for the organization. After many months of planning, the prototype was eventually revamped into what it is today, Million Dollar Teacher Tree.

Golden Apple

These apples are intended to provide any sort of Professional Development which, in turn, gifts them with key knowledge to add to their personal skill-set to better work with their students.

As educators, teachers are constantly looking to continually grow in their profession to not only learn how to better connect with their students, but to also make the learning experience much more exciting.

Suggested donation amount range: $10 – $100

Red Apple

These apples are designed to provide the typical day-to-day items in the classroom. Teachers spend can spend upwards of $1,000 out of pocket to have enough supplies yearlong for their students– to alleviate this, the Red Apples were created.

Everyday school supplies include; pencils, notebooks, crayons, hand sanitizer, etc.

Green Apple

These apples are intended to provide a big-ticket item for the teachers. These supplies are typically something that the teachers can use for more than one school year.

Examples include; a class-set of computers or new furniture for the classroom.

Suggested donation amount: $500+