Waters Today: We love that you got your start at Waters like so many others at our school! Were you a teacher first?
Ms. Alvarez: Yes! I started as a bilingual kindergarten teacher in Room 107, and I absolutely loved it! Kindergarten students are the smartest and funniest little people ever. They kept me on my toes and taught me how to be flexible because things don’t always go according to plan with 5 year olds. I then became a 5th grade teacher in Room 210. That was quite a shift but I loved it too! They were also smart and much more independent than kindergarteners. That experience helped me to grow so much more as a teacher. I then became the Assistant Principal and I have been in this role for almost 15 years. It has been quite a journey but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
That’s awesome! Did you grow up here in Chicago?
I did. I attended my neighborhood school, Wicker Park Elementary (which is now Pritzker Elementary) from pre-k until I graduated in 8th grade. Wicker Park was a small school like Waters. Throughout all those years, I had many of the same classmates. I was also fortunate enough to share some of the same teachers as my older siblings. I see a lot of those similarities with the students and families growing up here at Waters. However, my community at that time was not very safe and we did not have much parental involvement. I have learned to see the value of having parents as partners and how much more a school can thrive when we all work together.
That’s definitely true, and we’re fortunate to have such a wonderful community at Waters. Did you always want to be in education?
As a little girl, I roleplayed as a teacher a lot and as a 6th grade student, I became a volunteer teacher assistant. From 6th grade through 8th grade, I would arrive at school early to help set up the class, grade homework or spelling tests and update the bulletin boards. I mostly helped Mrs. Goldberg; she was the first to encourage me to become a teacher. I was a little shy, but she would often tell me that she knew I could do it. At times, she would call me down to her class and have me administer a Friday test, or read a story to her students. I was so nervous at first but then I grew to enjoy it and couldn’t wait until the next time that she would call for me. Since then, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. However, if I hadn’t become a teacher, I think I would have liked to have owned a restaurant or a cafe. I enjoy trying new foods and the eating out experience. Going out to eat is a nice way for people to relax and have good conversation. Being able to provide these experiences for others would be something I would have enjoyed to do, if I wasn’t in education.
We all need a Mrs. Goldberg in our lives—she sounds awesome! What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
To put my family first because the love and wellbeing of your family and closest friends is the most valuable thing you can ever have. I think this past year has really proven that.
Absolutely! Ok, let’s switch gears: Is there anything the students might be surprised to learn about you?
Maybe that I am more adventurous than I appear to be. I love to travel and to go on excursions like ziplining, hiking on volcanoes or in caves, swimming with dolphins and sea turtles and even white water rafting.
You sound like an animal lover—do you have any pets?
Since I first carried home a stray as a 2nd grader, I have always had a dog. For the past 14 years, I was blessed with two sweet and playful girls, Nani and Taina. They were two small mixed breeds (chihuahua, rat terrier and poodle mixes). Taina was black and tan, and Nani was golden. Nani was also a rescue dog from Puerto Rico. Sadly, they both passed away in 2020. I still miss them so I think it will take a little time before I find my next puppy.
Oh, we are so sorry to hear that. Besides animals, what’s one thing that always puts a smile on your face?
It always makes me feel good when I can help someone. I guess that is what I loved best about being a teacher.
And if a genie granted you 3 wishes, what would they be?
My first wish would be to cure all illnesses. It really makes me sad to see people not feeling well. My second wish may sound cliche, but it would be for world peace. I think our world needs that right now. My third wish would be for more wishes—haha.
And now for the Assistant Principal Quickfire Round:
WOULD YOU RATHER...
Drink coffee or tea? I love both, but a good cup of coffee wins!
Be really hot or really cold? I prefer hot tropical weather.
Eat breakfast for every meal or dinner for every meal? Breakfast is my favorite meal!
Have the ability to be invisible or the ability to fly? To fly and explore the world.
Swim in a pool or swim in the ocean? Ugh! Both! I enjoy a clean pool and also being out connecting with nature.
Sing in front of a big group of people or dance in front of them? Dance!
Travel to the future or travel back in time? Travel back in time!
Find a family of mice in your house or a family of spiders? I would rather find spiders.
Eek—we are far less brave and would definitely take the mice! Thank you so much, Ms. Alvarez!!