Perez Teaches Biology at Cypress Ridge High School in Houston
teachHOUSTON and Noyce Program alumnus Carlos Perez (’17) was interviewed for the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program “Where Are They Now?” profiles webpage.
Perez, who majored in biology at the University of Houston’s College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, teaches regular biology and ESL biology and science at Cypress Ridge High School in Houston’s Cypress-Fairbanks I.S.D.
When teaching in a cross-cultural setting, it is imperative to learn about students: who are they, how do I pronounce their names correctly (apologizing when I mispronounce it the first time and practice to get their name right next time), what are their strengths, what experiences do they bring to my class, how am I going to help all students to learn this content, and other information that helps me to understand the social emotional aspect of my students.
In order to ensure that all my students learn, the foundations of learning are established in the first week--for me the most important week of the school year. During this time, my focus is on learning about my students and building relationships.
What made you decide to become a teacher?
My teaching journey began in my sophomore year in college. I had always thought about teaching. However, as a first-generation college student, I was unsure about where to start. One of my professors mentioned teachHOUSTON, a program designed to prepare students for teaching STEM in high-need high schools. This represented a great opportunity to combine my teaching dreams and my passion for science. After completing my first courses in the teachHOUSTON program, I knew that teaching was my calling. The first time I stepped into a classroom as a college student trying to be a teacher, it felt magical. It felt right. I immediately knew that I wanted to make a difference. Thereafter, I continued my path through the teachHOUSTON program, enjoying every course and meeting amazing professors who inspired me and guided me through the process of becoming a teacher.
Describe your current teaching assignment.
I currently teach at Cypress Ridge High School, one of the high-need schools in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. Cypress Ridge has a 73% economically disadvantaged population. I have three teaching assignments: regular biology, ESL biology, and ESL science. My regular biology class is made up of different learners. My ESL biology class is for students who have just arrived in the U.S. I enjoy teaching this class because I get to see tremendous growth in all my students. Every year, I watch some students who enter knowing two words in English grow to being able to hold full conversations in English. This class provides students with an opportunity to learn English and to engage with scientific practices in biology. My main goal for my ESL students is to provide them with all the necessary support to succeed in a science class. Sometimes this class provides students with the opportunity to do science experiments for the first time. Throughout the year, any student who is newly arrived in the U.S. will be placed in this class. In the spring semester, I teach ESL science (an overview of chemistry and biology) to a similar group of students.
How did the Noyce program prepare you for this assignment?
The Noyce program and Dr. Paige Evans, its principal investigator, have been a huge part of my success as a teacher. I have attended conferences that always reinforce my teaching philosophy. I enjoy listening to keynote speakers who talk about solutions to many classroom issues. These conferences reignite my teaching spark, and it is stronger after each one. I can easily transfer what I learn to my classroom and can share with other teachers at my school. I am always confident that any strategy learned at a Noyce conference, for example, will be useful and will ensure equity in the classroom.
See Carlos Perez’s Full Profile