Manager of the Month: From Struggling Student to Memorable Manager

October 5, 2016

Culture, News, The Zoetics

Photo by Amber Romero Project Manager Janisse Vasquez said loves teaching middle school because it's a challenge.

Photo by Amber Romero
Project Manager Janisse Vazquez said she loves teaching middle school because of the challenges the students present.


By Amber Romero

Janisse Vazquez, ASK’s October Manager of the Month, said that one of her most memorable experiences as a student was when she first moved to the country from Puerto Rico – she was  struggling to learn English and her teacher just ignored her because she didn’t know what to do with her. Vazquez said this experience showed her early on what kind of influence she wanted to make. Years later, she has developed a deep love for her middle school scholars at ASK. Below, she opened up to The Catalyst about her  favorite hobbies and what she likes most about teaching at ASK.

Why do you think scholars voted for you?

I have developed great relationships with past and present scholars. They know I am here for them, whether it’s to hear their drama or help them with a problem. I can be pretty nice once you get through all the crankiness.  

Where are you from and when did you move to the United States?

I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States. When I was ten, my parents moved us to the mainland where I was placed in a language immersion program in Massachusetts. It was a hard adjustment for me in many ways.
What specifically made the adjustment difficult?
I missed everything about the culture of the island, including its language, people, music and food. It took me a couple of years to transition from speaking Spanish to English and for much of that time, I rebelled. I didn’t want to have to give up my first language because I felt like I was losing part of myself. I eventually acclimated to my surroundings though and now I appreciate the two different cultures that I grew up in.

What kind of student were you in high school?

Hmmm, well I wish I could say I had been diligent about my studies and focused, but mostly, I was an average student who focused more on extracurricular activities than on her academics. I know…shocking.

Who were the teachers or people who influenced you in your life?

I remember sitting in a class, not knowing English and being ignored by my teacher who didn’t really know what to do with me. That certainly influenced me. Who knew years later I’d be doing my best not to be that kind of influence.

What brought you to New Mexico?

While in college I left Massachusetts to participate in the National Student Exchange Program and that’s how I ended up in beautiful New Mexico.

How did you become a teacher?

 I stumbled into teaching when I was in my mid-twenties. I worked at UNM (as an academic advisor) and I was asked to teach a class about law enforcement, something I had done in the past, and my love for teaching grew. I left UNM and went to be a substitute at a middle school. The principal I worked for liked my work so much she asked me to get a teaching license. Eleven years later, and I’m still loving it.

What made you want to teach the subjects you do?

I currently teach 6th grade English and Social Studies along with 8th grade Art and Technology. Sixth grade Social Studies is all about World History and it turns out most scholars dread history until they have some teacher that brings it to life.  That’s why I love to teach it. I love a challenge.



What is the hardest part about teaching middle school?

Middle School is a period of transition and scholars are going through a lot. Their academics are not always the most important thing to them and as a project manager; I have to work with all their needs to make sure they still do their best.

What is the best part about teaching?

The scholars are my favorite part; they teach me something new every day.

What do you dislike the most about teaching?

I dislike the crazy hours of grading and parents who do their scholar’s work.

What makes ASK scholars different than other students?

ASK scholars choose to come here and get a great education. They are more focused and more interested in doing well academically. Plus, they are tons of fun.

What makes ASK different than other schools?

The atmosphere at ASK is different. Less drama, more learning. (No, I didn’t say we are drama free. I teach middle school, after all.)

Which managers made you feel comfortable when you were new last year?

Mrs. Lemons and I bonded right from the beginning. We were both new and we worked together to get acclimated to ASK. She’s my ASK bestie.

What are your hobbies?

I love to travel, spend time with my dogs, and paint. Oh, and shopping. Definitely shopping.

Tell us what you do when you are not teaching. 

When I’m not teaching, I spend time with my husband, go camping, and do a lot of lesson planning. Oh, and did I mention shopping?

What has been the most profound experience you have had teaching this year?

It’s still early in the year. I look forward to having many profound experiences, but as of now I’ll tell you the most terrifying thing that has happened this year. A lizard was loose in my learning space! Yes, a lizard.



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