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Inside CPS

News and Stories from across the District

A School Year Full of Learning and Growth

23 May 2024

By Laura Garza, Kindergarten Teacher at Nobel Dual Language School

Nobel Teacher

Teaching was not my first career path. My bachelor’s degree is in musical theater performance, and I started out choreographing and directing children’s plays. After spending so much time working with kids, I figured that I could make the transition to teaching. I took the leap and never looked back. 

I’ve taught in parts of the U.S. other than Chicago, such as Texas, and I always tell my colleagues that they may not realize how lucky they are to be teaching here. Ever since I started working at Nobel, I have felt so much support and love its sense of community. 

Not only am I a teacher, but I also have three children of my own. My children are Nobel students and are taking advantage of its wonderful dual language program. 

One morning, I was having a really challenging time. When I got to school, my hair was a mess, and I was trying to hold everything together. As I was coming up the stairs, one of my colleagues could tell that something was wrong. 

Before I knew it, she, our case manager, and one of our clerks whisked me away to a private room and made sure I had plenty of tissues so I could let my emotions out. Our principal was ready to find someone to cover my class, and he brought my children to me so we could talk and give each other hugs. 

I will never forget moments like these when my colleagues took time out of their day to make sure that I was cared for. 

This year, I made a big change from teaching fourth grade to teaching kindergarten. I had worked with extremely young students near the beginning of my teaching career, so, in a way, it felt like I was returning to my roots. 

However, the transition was hard at first. I couldn’t remember the right ways to communicate with or motivate my students. After a lot of trial and error, I feel like I have a strong grasp of how to help them be their best selves. 

I’ve learned that so much of teaching is managing your own feelings so you can support your students. This requires you to do a lot of work outside of school so that, when you are in your classroom, you’re not easily triggered by what your students are going through. 

Doing this self-reflection takes time, but it is so worth it. When you are in a good place, you are able to teach your students how to be good to those around them and how to be responsible for their own actions. 

These are some of the most important skills for students to learn, and it is so rewarding to play a role in helping them grow. 

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