Bringing in their individual expertise and daily classroom experiences, Close the Gap's Board of Educators (BoE) has been a huge part of Close the Gap’s successes with serving first-generation, low-income students (FGLI) by providing hands-on guidance to Fellows and mentors during the Social Impact Fellowship and giving valuable feedback during the monthly BoE meetings. In this spotlight series, we wanted to share with you their personal stories and ‘whys’ as an educator and a board member.
Let's meet Magret
An alternative education high school teacher from Danville, California, Magret Nunes became a part of Close the Gap’ s inaugural Board of Educators in March 2021. Inspired by her upbringing and experiences, Magret joined Close the Gap to continue on her commitment to make a positive difference in the lives of FGLI students.
Magret started her career in corporate accounting before transitioning to public education. During her time as an accountant, Magret trained employees and discovered her passion for teaching and helping people.
Her experience working with English Language Learners and undocumented students, along with her own upbringing, helped Magret understand the different barriers and gaps that prevent students, often from first-generation, low-income background, from academically succeeding.
In our conversation, Magret opened up about her experiences as a high school teacher and as one of Close the Gap’s Board of Educators.
What brought you to education?
MN: I was not planning on going to education at all. I didn’t have a good high school experience because my family didn’t feel included in the community. My mom was an immigrant. Our background was not similar to those who lived around us so, I didn’t really fit in.
In high school, I never really got the support. I wasn’t college material and my parents didn’t really push for that to happen. I didn’t really like school. My dad signed me up for a class at a community college where I met a professor that inspired me to keep taking classes and I became a corporate accountant.
After 8 years, I realized that I didn’t like the corporate philosophy. I was helping employees sign up for English language classes, which my supervisor didn’t like. The best part of my job was training people. I just needed to find a more social-justice-oriented career so I became a teacher. I wanted to make sure that what happened to me in high school didn’t happen to kids in high school.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching?
MN: Teaching is very stressful. In my program, I work individually with my students. It’s very easy to continue thinking and worrying about your students outside of the classroom and to stress about meeting their needs. There are more and more students who have trouble learning because they don't have access to basic needs and their only stable community is school. It’s stressful to really hope that they’re learning and growing, and that they feel good about graduating, unlike me who just wanted to get done.
The best part is graduation because that’s when I see them crossing the stage and getting their diploma. I see how happy they are about the next step. It’s so thrilling because you remember all the growing and the experiences you shared and now, they're moving onto their next chapter.
What does working with FGLI students mean to you?
MN: For me, it’s establishing a connection with education. For a few years, I was teaching English Language Learner classes, which was the entry point for the undocumented students, who are mostly FGLI, in our school. For me, those students were the ones that were so inspiring because they wanted to connect but they just didn’t know how because of the language and culture barrier. It was so much fun to figure out a way to get everyone connected, that no matter where they came from or what their situation was, they have value and they matter. They can still do whatever they want to do and try.
What does closing the gap mean to you?
MN: Traditionally, in school, they always talk about the achievement gap and I’m glad the terminology is changing towards terms like the opportunity gap. There are students who don’t have their basic needs met, along with other underlying factors that don’t provide them with opportunities. So, how do we close that gap between those who get the opportunities and those who don’t?
Closing the gap is really figuring out how to make sure all the students have access to opportunities that will support their abilities to achieve their goals or help them feel valued and be able to do things that they want to do. Closing the gap means providing the opportunities and meeting the students where they are and what their needs are at that time, allowing them to flourish and develop. Closing the gap means taking a more student-centered approach.
What brought you to Close The Gap and how has your experience been as a part of our Board of Educators?
MN: I got the email that was sent to all the AVID schools. It was a point in my teaching where I was working on closing these opportunity gaps. I checked it out and thought “This would be good for me to be involved in this level.”
The experience has been fantastic. I love interacting with the other educators and talking and bouncing off each other’s ideas. Meeting the Fellows and Pitch Day was just so much fun. The experience has been really good. Every meeting feels like a job interview because there’s always these questions: “What do you think about a situation…” but it’s a good thing because it forces me to prepare and really ponder on my own experiences. It’s a good thing. I really feel that you honor us as educators and what we have to say and I've seen that some of our suggestions have been carried out. I really enjoyed it and I was happy that I was asked to continue to be on the board.
About Close the Gap Foundation
Close the Gap Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Sunnyvale, California. Founded with the vision to create an equitable future without opportunity gaps for low-income youths, Close the Gap Foundation works to empower first-gen, low-income students to build lifelong confidence and reach their fullest potential. Close the Gap Foundation Close the Gap Foundation's President and co-founder, Tai Tran, has been recognized as a Forbes 30 Under 30 and LinkedIn Top Voice.
Close the Gap Foundation's flagship program, the Social Impact Fellowship, is a three-month all-expenses-paid program that helps first-generation, low-income high school students find mentors, grow their confidence, and give back. Through structured mentorship and project-based learning, Fellows work with mentors from renowned organizations like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and UCSF to tackle a self-directed social impact project to pitch to a panel of industry leaders.
To learn more about Close the Gap Foundation, visit: www.closethegapfoundation.org
To learn more about our Board of Educators and Board of Directors, visit: https://www.closethegapfoundation.org/about#board
To partner with Close the Gap Foundation, inquire at: firstname.lastname@example.org