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All Dreams Within Reach: Teacher Spotlight with Jessica Fernandez Ortiz

May 2, 2024


How do you make students' Zoom screens flicker to life? Put an incredible educator on screen. Just ask Jessica Fernandez Ortiz. As a first-year math teacher at Stella High Charter Academy during the COVID pandemic, she was used to seeing her high school students' cameras turned off during remote lessons.

But she'll never forget the day all of her students turned on their cameras and shared how much she meant to them.

Read on for more from Ms. Fernandez about that experience and her approach to teaching that ensures all students can thrive academically and personally.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

Growing up, I was fortunate to be guided by exceptional educators who not only equipped me for higher education as a first-year generation college student, but also instilled in me the importance of seizing opportunities.

Their influence inspired me to be that support and guidance for students, fostering a nurturing environment where they can thrive academically and personally, while also aiding them in pursuing their dreams and ambitions beyond the classroom.


Can you share a memorable teaching moment or experience?

During virtual learning in the COVID pandemic, my students surprised me by turning on their cameras for teacher appreciation week. When my virtual class session started I found myself faced with a sea of black screens, a common sight in the realm of remote teaching. Yet on this day, student's screen began to flicker to life.

Students held up signs with heartfelt messages of gratitude: "Thank You" and "We Appreciate You." I was speechless.

To me, it represented more than just a simple act of appreciation; it was validation of the impact I was making as a first-year teacher. I use this experience as a reminder that I am making a positive impact on student's life and education.