By Brenda Citlalicue
About a month ago I received a call that I had been waiting for almost 13 years. It was an opportunity to interview at my alma mater. As a teacher who has based her life’s work on ensuring education is equitable, just, and engaging, this call brought my work to the 270 degrees point of the cycle. I’m in that zone where I can come back and make a difference in my hometown and continue to grow my craft as a teacher, leader, and activist; it was an honor to do so. When I read the email from HR that I landed the position a couple of days later, I was beyond excited, until I realized I had to say goodbye to another group of people. I’ve always said that I would come back and serve in my community; now, it is becoming a reality.
I’ve always seen myself in Lynwood. I’ve envisioned a classroom, after school groups, running into students and school families at city events and so forth. I began my teaching career 14 years ago, in a small dual immersion charter school in Long Beach. I learned and unlearned so much about what it means to build community, construct learning and grow both academically and emotionally. After eight years, I took some time to reevaluate what the educational system had morphed into. The charter world was quickly changing, and the traditional school system wasn’t far behind. As an educator, it was hard to stay away from the classroom. I looked to come work in my hometown then, but due to the budget crisis, there weren’t any openings, so I ventured out of my comfort zone and sought out another charter, one that aligned with my beliefs out in North East Los Angeles.
Four years ago, I began once again as a new teacher at a new site. Asking questions, building relationships, growing my craft and pushing myself in my career. These four years were full of light, laughter, and love. It is these memories that make my move so much more challenging. I had great coaches not to mention the team! Our team was set. The gears were grinding well to ensure the growth of our students was reached. Realizing the space, I had helped create and the comfort I felt up in North East LA, I was beginning to doubt my decision. When I broke the news, everyone was sad to see me leave but happy that I would be fulfilling a life/career goal. What fueled me, even more, was after I was sent out a message letting some friends know about the news, one reply that nudged at my heart the most read, “Welcome home.”
He was right, HOME. Home is exactly what this place is to me. The anecdotes, the lessons, the hard times and the growth that I’ve experienced will all work towards aiding in re-establishing myself as that Knight I’ve longed to be, the star that adolescents gaze to for guidance and support. The warm demander to those that need reminding of what an education can deem for them. Most importantly proof that even if our path isn’t straight and narrow, perseverance and curiosity can elevate it and build bridges that connect us to our purpose in life.
I’m not going to lie; it is nerve wracking to come into an unfamiliar establishment. However, my curiosity has been the guiding force in allowing me to persevere and I don’t expect it to change this time around either. One thing I’ve always done is lead with my heart and wear it on my sleeve. It reminds me of the impact, struggles and accomplishments, my students and families have faced. It leaves an imprint that shapes my perspective and fuels my passion for continuing with this work. Thank you to those Wolves for fueling my passion for this next endeavor! I can’t wait to see what comes out of this 10-15 years from now.