My family moved to the United States from Uruguay when I was 13 years old. Though I was a bright and curious student who was fluent in English, I was not given the option to take any advanced classes because, as a recent arrival to the country, I was not previously enrolled in the honors program, which was a prerequisite in the high school I attended.
Later in life, as I began my career as a teacher, I knew that I wanted to make sure that young, bright individuals were not denied the same opportunities that I was. It is for this reason that I encourage all students, especially those in the Latino community, to take Advanced Placement® classes because I know that this opportunity can change the course of a person’s life.
I have been teaching AP® Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, and AP United States Government and Politics for the past six years. My philosophy has always been to open the door to any student who shows an interest in my classes. This open-door policy has allowed students with limited English, children with learning disabilities, and those lacking academic skills to enter my classroom and have access to a challenging education that pushes them to strive for success.
These classes have exposed students to learning that is inspiring and has allowed them to become creative and critical thinkers.
Although some students may have lacked certain skills when they entered the program, taking AP classes has allowed my students to flourish academically and develop the aptitude they need to be successful in college. Ultimately, the AP program in my school has prepared students by providing a setting in which they can develop the subject knowledge and abilities in critical reading, reasoning and communication they will need to be successful in college and, eventually, in the real world.
I love teaching AP classes because I am able to spend every day with amazing young adults who have the drive and resolve to succeed. This is especially true for some of my Latino students who have witnessed their parents struggle financially as they work in physically demanding jobs and who realize that the only way for their generation to break the cycle of poverty is by obtaining an advanced education.
Just as I hope to provide inspiration for my students, I find myself inspired by my students’ curiosity and desire to learn and achieve. This symbiotic relationship exists because the College Board (who develops the AP courses and exams) has provided a framework to allow students to learn in an environment that treats them as independent and analytical thinkers, and that allows me as a teacher to guide students in their quest to become productive and successful young adults.
Ultimately, AP classes expand opportunities for students and that is why it is critical for Latino youths to challenge themselves by enrolling in them.
Though traditionally underrepresented in these classes, Latinos need to fill this void because they are the fastest-growing minority in the nation. Moreover, their success in these courses can potentially save families thousands of dollars in college credits earned and the possibility for scholarships. Finally, AP classes give Latino students exposure to college-level work, demonstrating that a higher education is both desirable and achievable for them.
Of course, some students may hesitate to take these classes because they can be intimidated by the rigor and don’t believe that they have what they need to succeed, but most of my students have found that they can achieve anything they set their minds to. Perhaps what is most significant is the transformation that students undergo once they have conquered AP classes — they are more mature, more confident in their abilities and ready to take on any challenge.
I open my classroom door to all students because I know that if they are successful, their AP experience will only open up more doors in the future, ultimately leading to an abundance of opportunities that will allow them to become the innovative leaders that our community and nation needs.
(Spanish version/Versión en español)