One In a Million: Kristina Lopez


One In A Million Feature Questions

Name: Kristina Lopez

School: Synergy Public School

Grade: 4th

How long have you been a teacher?
I have been teaching now for three years. This is my third consecutive year of teaching 4th grade. 

What made you get into the teaching profession?
I wanted to become a teacher since I was very young. It has always been a dream and passion of mine to work with and teach children.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
My most inspirational teacher was my third grade teacher, Ms. Whitfield. She always had such a bubbly and positive personality towards her students and always made us feel special. She taught us core values, how to treat on another, and to be empathetic. I have always remembered the golden rule because of her; treat others the way you want to be treated!

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
Some of the biggest challenges teachers face currently in Arizona are proper funding for the school, limited resources and proper compensation. 

How do these issues affect your day to day?
These issues affect the day to day learning by making it more difficult for students to have access to all the technology, tools, and resources to help and enrich their learning. Also, it calls for proper planning, thinking ahead, and finding supplemental resources to use. 

What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?

The $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers means that there is more access to extra supplies that can be utilized in the classroom for a portion of the school year. 

How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different than the reality?

The expectations of becoming a teacher are different from the reality by there being more work to do on your own time than what is actually achievable within a work day. There is also a lot more paperwork and planning to do behind the scenes. There is also a lot to juggle between work and personal duties, but at the end of the day, it all gets done!

Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
I think teachers burn out so quickly because of the amount of tasks a teacher has to fulfill within a day, week, and month. Every task varies, but it is a continual process of monitoring, assessing, and readjusting to fulfill all the needs of each student. 

What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
Whenever I am running on empty, I can “fill my cup” by taking a step back to see how much growth and success my students have achieved within the time we have been together. I also look back at my past class photos and remember all the wonderful memories and successes my past students have made. I look forward to what is to come for them in their future, and know I am making a difference in the lives of the students I have now.

What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?
Some ways that our parents and community can show gratitude are by donating supplies, volunteering their time, and being involved in the children’s education and school events that we host on campus.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

My wish for Arizona’s children is that every child has the opportunities and resources for higher quality education.

What additional support or supplies do you need in your classroom and who do people contact if they want to help out?

Other additional supplies that would be useful in the classroom are storage solutions, science kits, and more access to technological resources (SmartBoard for instance). Supplies that we tend to run out of quickly are pencils, tissues, and hand sanitizer. If people wanted to help out we have our front office accessible to help answer questions or find spots for volunteers.

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Growing the Tree

Million Dollar Teacher Tree was first developed in a classroom by students in a program called, Next Generation Service Corps at Arizona State University in December of 2017. These students were tasked by Lloyd Hopkins, founder of Million Dollar Teacher project with developing a project that can potentially become an integral part in helping MDTP achieve its mission. The group eventually developed the original prototype for Million Dollar Teacher Tree—a cutout dollar sign that would be placed in surrounding businesses near the partner school. The idea was pitched to staff members of MDTP during the last of their class, and the project was picked up by MDTP as a new pilot program for the organization. After many months of planning, the prototype was eventually revamped into what it is today, Million Dollar Teacher Tree.

Golden Apple

These apples are intended to provide any sort of Professional Development which, in turn, gifts them with key knowledge to add to their personal skill-set to better work with their students.

As educators, teachers are constantly looking to continually grow in their profession to not only learn how to better connect with their students, but to also make the learning experience much more exciting.

Suggested donation amount range: $10 – $100

Red Apple

These apples are designed to provide the typical day-to-day items in the classroom. Teachers spend can spend upwards of $1,000 out of pocket to have enough supplies yearlong for their students– to alleviate this, the Red Apples were created.

Everyday school supplies include; pencils, notebooks, crayons, hand sanitizer, etc.

Green Apple

These apples are intended to provide a big-ticket item for the teachers. These supplies are typically something that the teachers can use for more than one school year.

Examples include; a class-set of computers or new furniture for the classroom.

Suggested donation amount: $500+