Erica Sanchez is a dean and former grade-level lead/teacher at KIPP SoCal Public Schools.
Who inspired you to get into teaching?
My second grade teacher, Ms. Hayward, was my inspiration. My cousin and I were the only Latinos in the classroom – and I was struggling because of the language barrier. Ms. Hayward would stay after school to help me with my homework. Her going out of her way really inspired me to get into education. When I was a kid, whenever anyone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, “A teacher.” Now, I want to show up for my students like she did for me.
Community is everything at KIPP. Once you make connections with the families, you will never leave. The families are amazing! I am currently a dean, but when I was in the classroom, I did home visits. Every single year, I met every child’s family. I think it’s so important to understand a student’s home life and their life outside of school. That way, we can be a team with the parents. I let the kids know they can do it, and parents can do the same at home.
What has kept you in education?
I want students to see themselves in me and see people of color because I didn’t have that opportunity. Growing up, I only had white teachers until college. I was a good student, but If I’d had some Latina teachers, I would have done even better in school. Yes, we just went through a pandemic. Things are different. But I cannot leave the profession because I want to continue to make an impact. At KIPP, we are getting kids ready to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Who have you learned from?
My first year, I had an amazing instructional coach. I was struggling, and that was really hard for me because I am a perfectionist. But my coach understood modeling. I would struggle, and she would say, “It’s okay, I’ll come into the classroom, we’ll get through it.” And she would come in and model it and then it would sink in. Another reason I’ve chosen to stay is because of the leadership at my school. Our Principal, Chinedu, is an amazing leader. She creates a beautiful culture both for students and educators.