IHSD Teacher Lucia Alvarez shares her career path as an IHSD teacher and how she sees teacher as agents of change.


Having worked for IHSD for about nine years, I see the importance of fostering family engagement to support children’s learning and improve teaching practice. Education has played an important role in my life. Education for me means to have a special power. The power to learn and teach. The power to change others’ lives and our own. The power to decide and take action. The power of being agents of change. 

Originally from Nicaragua where I lived through the civil war and worked as a computer engineer, I immigrated to the United States in 2006 with my son. The first job that I got was as a Spanish teacher in an afterschool program. I fell in love with the children immediately and found a passion for teaching. I then worked as a substitute teacher in the San Mateo-Foster City School District and as a volunteer in the San Mateo Public Library.

While working two part-time jobs as a single mother in 2009, I took public transportation to work and school while enrolling in ESL and Child Development courses to obtain a transfer degree from Cañada College. I then started a full-time job as an assistant teacher with IHSD’s South San Francisco site in September 2010 and learned that a bachelor’s degree was required to advance in the educational field.  In 2016, I transferred to San Francisco State University (SFSU) and joined the Promoting Achievement Through Higher Education (PATH) program and then moved to our San Mateo site to be a teacher. Here, I was more focused on working with children in the classroom and got familiar with the new assessment tools to share children’s information and progress with the parents.

In 2017, I moved roles to be a lead teacher in our East Palo Head Start site, where I not only focused just on children but also worked as a mentor to my teaching staff and had closer collaborations with parents. I truly believe that leadership is related to what you do with others, instead of what you do for others. This professional identity helped me see myself as a “facilitator” (agent of change) instead of someone that solves issues by herself. Leaders must have a special lens to amplify the strengths of their team, instead of limiting their capabilities. Celebrating group and individual accomplishments builds strong relationships, empowers self-esteem and keeps people motivated to do their best.

I visualize teachers as agents of change and see early-childhood education as something that has effects that reach far outside of the classroom. The early childhood education field needs more leaders and agents of change, who are able to set goals, share values and find commonalities. This kind of collaboration allows people to use learning as the vital process of self-reflection, adaptability and growth. This process is important nowadays where society, teachers, families, and children face different challenges, but working in partnerships empowers their contributions. I am passionate about working at IHSD and believe our most vulnerable children deserve teachers who understand them culturally and have a deep understanding of applied child development. Teachers, with passion in the educational field, are agents of change everywhere, and at all times.

– Lucia Alvarez, IHSD Teacher

Teacher Lucia Alvarez graduated from SFSU with a bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis on Early Childhood education in 2018. Her graduation cap can be seen with the words “Teachers are Agents of Change” and proudly represents her home country Nicaragua.