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PSRP Spotlight: Stephani Gutierrez

Stephani Gutierrez is a Pre-K paraeducator at Holabird Academy. Prior to coming to Holabird over a year ago, Ms. Gutierrez worked at Archbishop Borders School. She is a graduate of Baltimore City Public Schools.

Please tell us a little about your job.

As a Pre-K paraeducator, my responsibilities consist of working in the Pre-K classroom and working together with my lead teacher by either co-teaching/parallel teaching or simply providing student support when implementing the Tools of the Mind curriculum. I play a huge part in helping our ESL students feel welcomed and having someone they can communicate with as they learn. I also help with communication with Latino parents.

What other roles do you have at work, in the union, or in the community?

I have worked with Holabird’s Judy Center in their summer 0-5 year Mommy and Me classes. I also just translate when I can for any families who may need help in finding resources or filing out intake forms.

Was there anything about your experience as a BCPSS student that led you onto the path to becoming an educator?

When I graduated high school, I knew I wanted a field that had to do with kids or infants. I initially started my medical journey into nursing and completed my CNA certification through a partnership with BCCC and CASA Maryland. However, I didn’t feel like I was doing something I liked. I didn’t have a teacher who advised or pushed for my interest working in the school field. It was just an opportunity that was presented to me twice by Archbishop Borders (having attended that school) and I took a leap of faith. Once being in the classroom, I was able to help children and put my creative side to use and loved it. I was reached out to by my
daughter’s Pre-K teacher who said Holabird was looking for staff and thought it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, especially if it meant I could be with my child. I felt I could help ESL students who felt like I did once at the age of six when I came to the U.S. as a new student who couldn’t communicate with the majority of society or my community.

What are your hopes for this new school year?

To be able to work with our Pre-K and Kindergarten team successfully. We experienced some setbacks, loss of communication, and loss of staff. We just hope that with those closed gaps, we can work as a whole for the benefit of our kids’ learning experience and support their way up to higher grades.

What does being a BTU member mean to you?

To be a BTU member means being another voice that fights for what we believe is right for all educators out there, whether they’re starting today or tomorrow or have many years in the game. It’s an opportunity to be a Latina in this industry of teaching to encourage other Latinos especially, that they can do it too! But it also gives me the opportunity to educate Latinos that there’s more to just teaching than they truly think and to learn to appreciate teaching!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I got pregnant during my 11th grade year and became a teen mom. I remember personally reaching out to my teachers about my situation and it was then that I realized I had incredible teachers who helped and believed in me. With that support, I graduated on time and became valedictorian of my class. My goal will be to earn my degrees and teach so I can be as significant to future students as those teachers were to me, and push them to their limits so they know that, despite any obstacles in their way, they can achieve great things in life.