Submitted by Denair Unified School District
Name: Maria S. Olivas
Family: Three children (Isaac, Gloria and Eva) and three grandchildren (Leonidas, Jordan and Emilia)
School: Denair High School
Subject taught: Spanish 1 – 4
Experience and education: 11 years teaching experience. Bachelor of science degree in business administration from San Francisco State University; teaching credential from CSU Stanislaus; master’s in education from Grand Canyon University.
Why most inspires you about teaching? Teaching students lifelong skills and waking their desire for knowledge.
What are your biggest challenges as a teacher? To motivate students who don’t seem to appreciate the value of education.
What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? Anything with technology.
How has Common Core affected your classroom strategy? Many of the Common Core concepts were already being applied in my classroom. Students are often expected to explain their answers. We do math when we do conversion to the metric system; we learn about history of the Spanish language and its influence on English. Some Common Core strategies that we are using more frequently are working with partners, pair-share activities and group discussions.
What do you want your students to remember? I want my students to remember that everything I did in the classroom, even though it seemed too demanding, was done with their best interest at heart.
How can parents support what you do? Parents can support my efforts by minimizing the number of student absences and by making sure their students bring their materials to class.
What will it take to improve academic success in DUSD? I believe that academic success will improve when a combination of efforts is achieved: a) collaboration among all sites to develop a continuous, seamless program in all disciplines that encompasses grades K-12; b) parental awareness and support of such programs increases; and c) students take ownership of their own success by taking advantage of the opportunities the district has to offer.
What’s next in your classroom? My dream is take my classroom into cyberspace — that includes e-textbooks, a classroom set of Chrome books or iPads, online practice activities and assessments, etc.
What would surprise people about your job? The tremendous challenge that exists in trying to run a 21st century classroom on a 20th century budget.
What do you do for fun? I spend as much time as possible with my family and my friends. I love to watch my favorite teams play – the S.F. Giants and the S.F. 49ers – in person or on TV. I have an unquenchable thirst for travel.