Carmelita came to Oakland in 2001 as a history teacher to join the small school’s movement and open Life Academy High School. In 2007 she moved into administration and founded Oakland International High School with a group of dedicated and creative teachers. They serve newly arrived immigrants and refugees. While still the principal of OIHS, she is working on a new initiative at their site, the Learning Lab. Through the Learning Lab, they will train a new generation of pre-service educators as well as help re-train the district’s existing teacher corps to better serve newcomers and English language learners.
Why public education?
My father was born on a small farm without electricity or running water. He attended segregated Mexican schools in South Texas during the 1930s and 40s. However, unlike most of his peers, he had an expectation coupled with an opportunity to attend college. He and his 13 siblings all graduated. My six aunts all became teachers. High expectations, opportunity, and college transformed their circumstances. I benefited from their experiences, and believe I have an obligation to provide high expectations and educational opportunities to the next generation.
What are your vices?
Dr. Pepper. It is terrible for you. High fructose corn syrup and chemicals, but it’s also really, really good (even better if you have some Fritos on the side).