Amariani Garcia Perez
BEd in Elementary Education Alumna
“Creating a light in the eyes of others that wasn’t there before changes a person.”
Institute for Teacher Education - Elementary
- BEd, Elementary Education
Where did you grow up?
Growing up as a military brat, many places have a connection to “home.” However, one certain town has never crossed my mind to be considered home or where I am from. The most I can say is where I feel the most at home, where I feel my heart belongs, and where I feel the most comfortable; that is the island of O‘ahu.
How did you become interested in the field of education?
I am sure it might sound cliché, but I became interested in the field of education from a very early age. For me, it started when I would help my classmates with concepts they didn’t understand. The teacher could explain many different ways, and sometimes my classmates just couldn’t understand it. I would try my best to explain my own way, and they would get it. The looks they would give me when they understood and how much they would thank me, brought me so much joy and happiness. It was something I continued to do over the years, and it became ingrained in everything I did.
How has the Elementary Education Ka Malu o Kaiona* program impacted or benefited your career path?
I believe this program pushed me to be the best version of myself. I will admit, my college life started off very rocky. However, seeing what I could do to improve my skills and to show others that they were capable was life changing. Creating a light in the eyes of others that wasn’t there before changes a person. It shows you that maybe you can help others, just as others have helped me.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to pursue teaching as a career?
When I was in the fourth grade, I wanted to be like my teacher. My entire class was always excited to begin the day, and we tried our very best not to miss school. School wasn’t a place that was dreaded. Every day, we learned something new, and our teacher showed us how fun learning could really be. My fourth grade teacher was one of my first career inspirations because she taught me how I can be what she was for us, a hero. Another inspiration for me was my mom. Since I was little, my mom has been an EA for special education students, and my sister was as well. I did notice the pattern that helping others ran in the family, as many people in my family are in the service industry. Many people inspired me to push for my dreams to get me where I am today.
What is your most memorable experience from being a part of the Ka Malu O Kaiona cohort?
One of the most memorable experiences of being in this cohort would have to be when I taught a math lesson. In this particular math lesson, I had a student who was at a very low level in math. It was hard for them to understand concepts, and they needed help. They kept telling me over and over that it was too hard or that they were “too dumb” to solve the problem. I believed otherwise and kept explaining and pushing for them to understand. I gave them encouragement to try again. After that, something clicked and they started to solve the problems on their own without my help. They looked at me, so proud of the work they had done and confident that they were right and were excited to show me. It was such an amazing moment that I started to tear up out of the sheer pride I had in them. Believing in your students, so much that they start believing in themselves, is a moment I will never forget.
How has COVID-19 affected your life? What has brought you the most comfort during this time?
I don’t think mentally getting through COVID-19 would have been possible without my friends by my side. They have all helped me through so much. Adjusting to everything being online was difficult. Some really life changing events were postponed, but I couldn’t have asked for better people in my life. The adjustment and plans for the future look different, but they remain as strong as ever.
What are your future visions and goals?
I want to be able to live and stand on my own feet and eventually get my master’s degree in education.
*Ka Malu O Kaiona is a K-6 elementary cohort in the Institute for Teacher Education Elementary Program coordinated by Dr. Rosela Balinbin Santos. Based in Wai‘anae Coast partner schools with the goal of recruiting future teachers for and from Wai‘anae Coast communities, the program focuses on place-based learning, culturally relevant pedagogy, and community advocacy. Spring 2020 marks the first graduates of the Ka Malu O Kaiona cohort.