We Teach Texas Student Spotlight: Alan Villarreal
“Science? Not for me.” “I took physics in high school, but it was so hard, and I didn’t understand anything.” “I had the worst chemistry teacher! We were all lost in her class.” I’ve heard these and countless more sentiments whenever I have asked those around me about their previous experience with science. I attribute such reactions to a pressing yet ignored in public education—the fact that we are not producing enough highly-qualified science instructors to meet the STEM shortages of the growing public-school system. This is unfortunate, as science pervades every aspect of our life. For meaningful change to occur, we have to start little by little—with We Teach Laredo.
Story of Me
My name is Alan Villarreal and I am a third-year undergraduate student at Texas A&M International University majoring in Science Education with Grades 7-12 Certification. The third child and only son in my family of six, I was born in the beautiful and charming town of Laredo, Texas; however, most people are surprised to find out I lived the first six years of my life in Mexico City, México! Growing up in México allowed me to directly experience the wonderful and rich Hispanic culture of which I am humbled to be a part of. Moving back to the United States at such an early age helped positively foster my bilingualism and biliteracy as both a Spanish and English speaker as well as encouraged my growth a tricultural American, Mexican, and Jewish student. For the majority of my primary and secondary schooling in Laredo, I attended private institutions and received high-quality, distinctive, and personalized schooling in literature, writing, mathematics, religion, and the arts. I graduated from my high school, Laredo Christian Center, as a junior and at the top of my class and decided to attend TAMIU after receiving a double full-ride scholarship. TAMIU has allowed me to stay close to the city and the people to which I hold so dear, and I am thankful to G-d for all countless memorable and blessed experiences I have made at this institution.
Story of Us
Since May of 2018, I have been president of TAMIU’s honor society for education majors— Kappa Delta Epsilon—where I have had the pleasure of leading pre-service educators towards enhancing teaching as a profession and as a way of living through professional development opportunities, community and social events, and the promotion of scholarship and excellence in education. These formative experiences have helped me understand that one the facets which strongly affects the success of our profession is the willingness of teachers to help out their colleagues. This is in line with one the ten principles of Latino leadership proposed by Juana Bordas—“Juntos (Together).” A good teacher achieves greatness in one classroom, but an excellent teacher multiplies his influence by working together with his colleagues to achieve greatness in every classroom. I am continually inspired by each education major I meet at TAMIU because we all share the vision of helping Laredo move “Adelante(Forward).” I am convinced that every pre-service and in-service teacher I have worked alongside at TAMIU is whole-heartedly dedicated to helping propagate the success of our community’s students through the consistent commitment, open-mindedness, and love for students they show forth.
Story of Why
Throughout my K-12 education, I was never interested or good at science. I simply viewed it as an abstract and foreign discipline of which I had no hope of excelling or even engaging in. I believe this was due to the fact that in many American schools, science is not done right. Today’s science classrooms are environments in which pupils are expected to consume and regurgitate immense amounts of facts and information instead of participating in hands-on investigations and experimental learning for the purpose of discovery. Science education can be improved by moving learners from the traditional role of a science student (which requires them to passively absorb the content) to encouraging them to actively assume the role of a scientist instead. Because I’m a person who prefers to cause change when I identify a problem rather than complain about it, I declared Science Education as my chosen program of study when I enrolled at TAMIU—and it’s certainly one of the best choices I have ever made.
As a student in the College of Education, I have received high-quality instruction, supervision, and opportunities to grow and flourish as an educator. I have been able to glean so much wisdom from each of the dedicated faculty I’ve studied under, with each professor providing a new understanding on how to engage this Mexican-American community. Moreover, my participation in TAMIU’s ADVancing the Instruction of Science Educators program has exposed me to various models of science pedagogy and given me the necessary support for becoming the great science teacher the youth of Laredo deserve.
I teach Laredo because this town has such a potential to be a pinnacle of brilliance and eminence in Texas. I teach Laredo because I find it saddening that our best and brightest youth leave to find “greener pastures” when the harvest is full and truly ready to be reaped here! I teach Laredo because the laborers are few, yet I believe Laredoeans are slowly but surely advancing towards transforming our town into a formidable powerhouse and we will soon see Laredo receive the respect and recognition it has long merited. I teach Laredo because Laredo has taught and continues to teach me—and I will not stop until we have taught all the world the miracles that can happen when we press adelante juntos (forward together).