Meet Ms. Lina Perez | Seventh & Eighth Grade Science Teacher | AIM Academy
Ms. Lina Perez is the seventh and eighth-grade science teacher at KIPP DC’s AIM Academy and February’s Teacher Spotlight! Ms. Perez, a Harlem, New York native, graduated from Howard University, where she majored in sports medicine and chemistry. Before joining KIPP DC, she gained tremendous experience by tutoring locally, working for Teach For America, and teaching in South Africa. We sat down with her to gain more insight into her experience working in education.
What makes working at KIPP DC a unique experience as a teacher?
“The commitment that teachers have to their students’ progress. We spend a lot of time making sure that students are okay and successful, not just academically but socially. There’s a really big emphasis on social and emotional learning and getting to know your student as a person, instead of just a student.
I also think what makes it unique is the amount of time we spend with our students. Because we spend so much time with our students, it’s easier to build relationships and get to know them and for them to get to know you as well.”
There must be a lot of different personalities to account for! How do you foster a sense of belonging in your classroom?
“I understand that representation does matter, so we have posters of Black inventors, scientists and leaders in STEM.
But the true sense of belonging that I am learning and growing from is making sure that the classwork that I provide for a student is accessible to all of my students. As I grow in my career, I spend a lot of time making sure I accommodate, reading IEPs and 504s, making sure that every student feels comfortable and being aware of their needs. I also do my best to make my students feel seen in my classroom.
I also try to be as transparent as appropriate, so we start class with weird ‘would you rather’ questions. They get to know me and I also get to know them and it gives them a chance to still be kids.”
What sort of morning routine do you have for yourself to get pumped up for your classes?
“I love a quiet and still morning. I’m also very routine, so I always have to have my ginger tea just to get my day right.
I also am a bit of a nerd, so I need to make sure I know what I’m teaching. I try to make sure that my lesson is internalized. I’ve gone over misconceptions so I’m aware of what students might ask. I also try to reflect and look at student work from yesterday and see if there is anything we need to circle back on and talk about, or give any shout outs. I try to make sure that I am aware of what happened yesterday so I can make the next day better.”
What have you learned the most while working at KIPP DC?
I think, especially as a kid but now being a teacher, I now understand the value of a teacher. Our role in society is almost under-celebrated, but we honestly have power and it is scary. We have the power to mold people and whatever we choose to do with that power will definitely impact students for their whole life, whether it’s good or bad.
Can you describe your most memorable experience from working at KIPP DC?
“I think the most memorable moments are always the field trips. I love seeing kids out of the building and having some fun. One year, we did a STEM field trip where we went roller skating and I talked to them about the physics of roller skating, which was really cool.”
Speaking of field trips, if you could take your student on any field trip in the world, where would you take them?
“I would love for us to go to the Amazon and tour the rainforest. We could also do a cross-curricular activity and bring the history teacher to talk about Indigenous people and also why destroying the rainforest is an issue. ”
If you could pass on any wisdom to your students, what would you share with them?
“I would tell them that they are doing great, and I promise it will get better. And to give themselves more credit. I think a lot of times, especially with kids and the way technology is, their issues follow them. School stayed at school when we were kids, but now it travels with them. I would tell them that they are doing fine and things will honestly get better.”
KIPP DC is proud to recognize Ms. Perez as this month’s Teacher Spotlight. She is an amazing teacher, and she has made a huge difference in the lives of many students.