Dr. Maria Ovalle
Curie High School
My name is Dr. Maria Ovalle. I have been an educator in CPS for twenty-five years. Though I have held a variety of positions both in the school setting and as an administrator, I choose to teach. Currently, I am a teacher of Diverse Learners at the high school level. I grew up in Little Village and can relate to many of the experiences of my students. I feel it is my job to empower my students to advocate for themselves, to build on their strengths, and to have their voices heard. It is extremely important for young people to understand that they have the power to create change. I teach through the use of Critical Literacy Units on various social justice and equity topics that I develop based on student choice. My goal is to enable students to be participants in their learning and to become agents of change on issues that are important to them and that impact their communities.
My equity challenge and how I work on it
One challenge I have is to get students to understand the power and voice they have in their own learning. My students are diverse in many ways: disabilities, cultural backgrounds, English language proficiency, socioeconomic statuses, etc. As freshmen, they come from many different schools. I take the time to build community in the classroom. I also provide continuous opportunities for voice and choice throughout the learning process. It takes time for some of my students to gain confidence and build trust in themselves and among each other to the point where they can share their ideas, thoughts and collaborate freely. I make sure to take the time to create relationships and authentic learning opportunities through interactive engagement, voice and choice to develop and support student agency.
Quote/motto or one piece of advice for a teacher who is thinking about doing this work
"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou
Resources used to drive equity work
Some of my favorite free teaching resources include: Facing History and Ourselves and Teaching Tolerance. Both sites provide a plethora of instructional resources that support social justice and equity in the classroom and beyond. For teachers who are interested in incorporating action civics into their curriculum, there is a free online course that provides great guidelines and examples.