Karl G: From Student to Teacher in Seattle Schools

Growing up as a Filipino student and English Language Learner in Seattle Public Schools, Karl Gapuz understands firsthand the obstacles and assets of being a person of color within the school system. Throughout high school and college, Karl volunteered as a reading tutor at Title 1 schools across Seattle in hopes of helping others like him and to get a closer look at the systemic barriers that he planned to challenge.

Karl went on to join the Seattle Teacher Residency program where he learned to advocate for and recognize the needs of his students. Six years later, he is still in the classroom, serving as a fifth grade teacher at Seattle’s Rising Star Elementary. He takes an empathetic educator approach and leverages his experiences to build connections with his students in order to have them engage in learning.

The STR program ignites a deeper purpose for teachers like Karl, giving them the tools to ensure Seattle Public Schools is a culturally responsive and high-performing system where all students can succeed. The STR program prepares diverse cohorts of highly qualified and effectively trained teachers to break down systemic barriers to education and unlock new doors of opportunity for their students.

“STR aims to prepare teachers to be the catalysts in our Seattle schools with values centered on social justice and closing opportunity gaps for students. The program gave me the opportunity to see greater purpose in the work I’ve done and equipped me with the tools to seek equity and advocate for my students.” said Karl. “Like many of my STR peers, my classroom aims to engage in restorative practices for students to feel part of our community when factors outside of school can be too heavy. My classroom walls reflect the identity of my students and who they will become. Each curriculum is analyzed and adjusted to meet the different learning modalities of my students. Social justice is present in my classroom, opportunity gaps can be closed in my classroom, and relationships are built and solidified in my classroom.”

Learn more about the STR program and consider supporting future teachers like Karl with a gift to celebrate 10 years of teacher preparation in Seattle.