Teacher Pathways: Yaritza Pena
Yaritza Pena’s career development at Mastery has been motivated by her desire to create impact beyond the walls of her school, Cleveland Elementary. Whether it’s teaching 6th and 8th grade science or helping to maintain Schoology, a virtual learning platform, Pena has worked to ensure that students at Cleveland Elementary are supported in their learning experiences.
Learn how Pena’s passion for student enrichment has progressed beyond working as a science teacher to becoming a teacher leader and, now, serving as a Culture Leadership Fellow at Mastery.
Why did you choose Mastery?
I chose Mastery because of the school’s mission and its commitment to provide equitable education experiences that prepare students for the future. I also value how Mastery prioritizes the well-being of its faculty, staff, and administrators. Education is personal. Teachers are working with someone’s child, and we are responsible for helping to build each student’s character inside and outside the classroom. Mastery provides this space and encourages teachers to become partners with the students.
How has Mastery helped you in your career development?
Mastery’s values have been critical to my professional development. The schools’ open door policy, consistent communication, collaborative environment, and commitment to student achievement are each aspects that have allowed me to grow in a meaningful way. I feel empowered to go to my school leadership and express my thoughts.
While I worked as a science teacher, my students shared how some cultural gaps were hindering their academic experience. I was able to provide these concerns with my assistant principal of school culture. My feedback resulted in the school implementing new policies that led to a decrease in detentions and improvement in academic performance.
Similarly, I shared with my principal that I was interested in becoming an assistant principal of school culture. When Mastery launched the Culture Leadership Fellowship program, my principal immediately encouraged me to apply. I was accepted and am currently participating in the program now. When you enter Mastery as a teacher, in time you are encouraged to explore what more you could be doing. Once you share your interests and goals with leadership, they listen and provide opportunities for you to grow.
What’s next for you at Mastery?
In order to graduate from the Culture Leadership Fellow program, I must to continue to work closely with teachers and hold them accountable in their work. While I still serve as a teacher leader and Schoology champion at Cleveland, I’m also reviewing areas to improve Mastery’s curriculum and lesson planning. It is rigorous work, but I’ve learned that it is through this challenging work that a teacher has the opportunity to grow, learn, and advance their professional development.