SAN ANTONIO - At the Young Women's Leadership Academy, a young woman has quickly risen to the top of the teaching profession. Christina Aguilera has only been teaching for four years, but she is already having a big impact.
Aguilera is a recipient of the KENS 5 Credit Human EXCEL Award.
She is the seventh and eighth grade math teacher, and all of her students embrace math: It's required.
"We don't allow any negativity around math. I tell them, 'If we have a positive mindset, we can do anything,'" Aguilera said.
"For example, if they say they are bad at fractions, they have to touch the 'Learn Like A Champion' sign I have on the front door. They have to come back and say, 'I may not be great at fractions yet, but I'm going to come back and work hard,'" she said.
"I'm generally pretty positive, but occasionally I have bad days. I get negative, but she always reminds me to stay happy," said seventh grader Campbell Taylor.
Aguilera had planned to go to law school and then run for office on a platform of improving education. She came to San Antonio as part of Teach for America four years ago and found her true passion as a teacher at the Young Women's Leadership Academy.
"It's important our girls to know that they can be whoever they want to be. It doesn't matter what zip code they're from or what background they come from," said Aguilera.
She knows the obstacles many of her students face.
"I am also a first generation college graduate. I'm a first generation American-born citizen," Aguilera said.
She attended the Young Women's Leadership Academy in Dallas.
"I have my yearbooks here, which are kind of embarrassing, so they can see that I was someone like them and that they too can go to Notre Dame or go to whichever college they set their minds on," said Aguilera.
"It really inspires me, because she goes through the same things that we did," said seventh grader Kristen Padilla.
Aguilera said all-girls schools help women succeed.
"All girls gives us and our students the chance to get comfortable to take risks and they are definitely very fierce in their math abilities and other academic because of their environment and this opportunity," said Aguilera.
The chalkboard in the back of the room contains Aguilera's favorite quote: "She believed she could, so she did."
"They have big dreams and hopes that I know they can accomplish," said Aguilera.
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