Meet Teacher of the Year winner Iván Medina 

Iván Medina is a fifth-grade math and science dual language teacher at Marcus Leadership Academy. A second-generation American whose parents emigrated from the small, rural town of Arroyo Seco, Queretaro, Mexico, Medina was born and reared in the Dallas area. He is the first member of his family to graduate from both high school and college. 

Medina holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master of public affairs in education policy from The University of Texas at Austin. Medina is a highly effective, sixth-year veteran who has earned both the TEI Distinguished Teacher and Teacher Incentive Allotment Exemplary Teacher designations. 

Medina’s personal mission is to leave the world a better place and to empower others to dream the unimaginable.

What is some advice you wish you had received when you were starting out as a teacher?  

Do not let work consume you because if you are running on empty, you will not be at your best to serve your students. Cherish your time outside of work, and seek out passions that provide you personal nourishment.

What is your best tip for classroom management?  

During the first week of school—or on the very first day, if you are feeling bold—develop a respect agreement in conjunction with your students in order to outline the expectations of all parties in relation to the learning environment. Not only does this process empower students, but it lays the foundation for a culture of accountability that will govern your classroom throughout the rest of the year. 

How do you build strong connections with students?  

I build strong connections with my students by learning all of their names on the first day of school, greeting them at the door, developing “secret” handshakes, attending their extracurricular events, and sharing my family’s backstory. I want my students to feel special, but I also want them to know that I have high behavioral and academic expectations of them. I’ve found that students really appreciate both. I also want them to be aware that I was once in their shoes and that my family experienced many of the struggles that their families go through on a daily basis. This transparency has always served to create a genuine connection not only with my students but also with the families that I have served in Dallas ISD.

What are your hopes for your students in the future?  

I hope my students have learned the importance of advocating for themselves and for those whose voices are suppressed in our society. Whether my students decide to continue their education at an institution of higher learning or enter the workforce immediately upon high school graduation, I hope that they do not settle and that they ultimately decide to pursue a path which fulfills them.

If you were not a teacher, what would you be doing instead?  

If I were not a teacher, I would be a small forward specializing in defense and three-point shooting for the Dallas Mavericks. I hear they could use one of those!

What do you consider to be your superpower as a teacher? 

My superpower has to be my willingness to run through walls for my students. There isn’t a task that I am unwilling to tackle in order to ensure that my students receive the best service possible at my campus. Our schools and the systems that govern them are not perfect and they often present roadblocks that strain the relationship between our families and our education system. Our families deserve a school system that serves its diverse constituents with an equity-based mindset. But, when our systems fail our families, I have no problem exhausting all of my options in order to rectify the circumstances.

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