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HEROES Profile- Johanna Paraiso

HEROES Profile      September, 2015     

Hellaawesome Educators

Revitalizing Oakland Education for Students

 “The desire to help create a more equitable society is huge for me. It is [my] fuel…”

Did you grow up in Oakland? If not, what brought you to Oakland?

I grew up in Los Angeles and came to the Bay to attend Cal. I never left. In terms of the diversity and love for culture, Oakland feels much like the home I left in southern California. It is the kids of Oakland that make me want to stay indefinitely.

 What are your favorite aspects of your job? 

The expressions on my students’ faces when they have mastered a skill and are able to teach it to somebody else.

What is your connection to Oakland Education?

How would you describe your role in the community?

I have been teaching high school English in Oakland (currently at Fremont High School) for the last 11 years, trying my best to foster generation after generation of poet revolutionaries. My role as a community member is to help students become civically engaged, digitally savvy, and comfortable as “Literatis”.

Johanna was selected as an OUSD Teacher of the Year for 2015-2016.

Share a highlight from your career, in which you believe you made an impact.

The year that I applied for the National Board certification was the year that I pushed my classroom into “the public eye”. The certification process asked for a ton of video recording of practice which I had not done before. That was in 2008. Ever since then, video taping practice and student learning has become fundamental in my classroom, and in my room there is a culture that our learning is public. This has had tremendous impact on our collective sense of accountability and the pride we take in our work.

…our learning is public. This has had tremendous impact on our collective sense of accountability and the pride we take in our work.

What from your background do you believe led you to do what you do now?

I think that becoming a mom while in college changed the direction of my life path. I had every intention of one day being a photojournalist, but I had two lovely boys in my last two years at Cal and instead went into kids media. The professional experience I gained in technology coupled with the experience I gained with caring for children have both contributed to where I am with my teaching today. I am able to fold both my love for technology and my understanding of child development and teenage behavior into my practice.

What do you love most about Oakland?

I love the revolutionary spirit, the deep history of activism, and of course, the food. Hallelujah.

What is your best advice to young people?

Don’t be afraid of success and high expectations. You are your own best support system.

What do you like to do in your free time?

What free time?

What motivates you?

The desire to help create a more equitable society is huge for me. It is the fuel I need during all of the late-night lesson planning I do.

Jo is an amazing teacher leader, parent, and colleague. In addition to being the OUSD 2015 teacher of the year, she is also a mother of four, and a lead teacher on the Fremont redesign team. She is Chair of the English Department, co-lead of the Media academy, and the Data and Technology teacher leader at Fremont. A true lifelong learner, she is also a blended learning master teacher and a TACCL (Teachers advancing Common Core Learning)  Fellow  with UC Berkeley. I am thrilled to be working with Jo to facilitate the redesign at Fremont.
Katherine Carter

Founding Principal, Manzanita SEED

Jo is Hella-Awesome because she is so generous with her time and energy. I remember her opening up her house for an entire Sunday for new teachers to come and chat, have planning meetings, discuss new technology tools, and everything else to do with the school. Of course, the house was packed with food, and everyone was so welcome.
Heejae Lim

Founder & Executive Director, TalkingPoints

If you were to reimagine public education in Oaklandwhat would that vision look like?

We would be the city and school district that put resourcing our students first above anything else.  We would be the model for the rest of the nation for how to do that right when it comes to urban education. It would mean that every school becomes a full-service community school.

60 Seconds with Johanna Paraiso

Know any Oakland HEROES?

If you know of any HEROES in your school community to feature, let us know!


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