The Next Generation

The "Teacher Opportunity Corps II" Students
A profile on a teacher preparation program at SUNY Old Westbury — the only Long Island university under Teacher Opportunity Corps II, a state-funded program that helps students of color become teachers.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Ivette Leiva

“I came from Brentwood — low-income district. And I kind of just want to be able to go to a school district like that and say, ‘It is possible. Just ’cause you don’t look like the person that’s always at the top doesn’t mean that you can’t do it.'”

Cristian Belleza

“With me being bilingual, I can open more doors not only to the students, but to the parents — to bring their kids to the classroom and not feel afraid. Sometimes in the Latino community, the parents are afraid to say something because they don’t know the language.”

Erine Desir

On Teacher Opportunity Corps II: 

“I’m helping out students with certain workshops. I’m allowed to get to know the clerical side of teaching. And also she [her TOC II mentor] shows me how she plans lessons and how she does her YouTube recordings for students. I get to get more of a feel of what it’s like to be a teacher.”

Manuela Hurtado

“I am undocumented. So I do not get financial aid or any form of assistance from the government to go to school. I have to pay out of pocket completely. It [TOC II] was the first time really where I was given this help that I so desperately need.”

Talisa Cantos

“I can almost name every teacher from kindergarten to the senior year of high school, and I can honestly say I’ve only had one Latina teacher, and the rest of them have all been white. It kind of felt like it was the norm. And it’s sad to think of it that way, now that I’m older.”

Shari Diaz

“It’s been a lifelong dream to be a teacher. In my pre-K yearbook next to my name, I put that I wanted to be a teacher. I am back in college after a 10-year hiatus — I had my daughter. So being first teacher to her helped me rekindle that love of wanting to be able to be a teacher and help and empower and educate the next generation of scholars.”