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Why I Teach - Odalis Garcia Cruz Interviews...

Why I Teach - Odalis Garcia Cruz Interviews...
Odalis Garcia Cruz

Learn more about P-TECH Norwalk educators in a new series from NPS Communications Department intern Odalis Garcia Cruz, "Why I Teach - Odalis Garcia Cruz Interviews..."

In this interview series, Odalis, a junior at P-TECH, asks the educators of her school what they enjoy most about working at Norwalk High School and P-TECH, when they were most proud to be an educator, and who is their hero or inspiration. They also share with Odalis what they do to take care of their mental health.

Next up, Jennifer Stevens.  

Jennifer Stevens

Jennifer Stevens is a dedicated and passionate high school photography and art teacher and has been teaching for 20 years. Her goal is to inspire students to explore their creativity and develop their technical skills in photography; problem-solving and critical thinking skills that can be used in the real world. She believes in the power of art to transform lives and help students express their unique perspectives.

What is special about Norwalk High School/Norwalk Public Schools?

Norwalk High School is special because of its support of the arts that foster creativity, critical thinking, and innovation.

Tell me a time you were proud to be an educator.

I was particularly proud to be an educator when one of my students won a scholarship to the Hallmark Institute of Photography. Seeing the student's hard work, creativity, and dedication being recognized was incredibly rewarding. It reinforced the impact that guidance and encouragement can have on a student's artistic development and confidence.

Do you ever find yourself having any challenges? How do you deal with it?

Yes, like any educator, I face challenges such as keeping students engaged, addressing diverse learning needs, and managing time effectively, but the biggest challenge to education today is the allowance of cell phones in school.  Cell phones lead to excessive screen time, which can negatively impact their mental health, sleep patterns, and academic performance. Not only do they distract students from learning, but cell phones contribute to a significant rise in anxiety among today's youth.  I collect them in the beginning of each class, but, unfortunately, they are used excessively throughout school.

Who is your hero? Who is your teaching inspiration? Why?

My grandfather was a huge influence and inspiration to me. As a child, I spent hours in his studio creating every kind of art one can imagine. This led me to learn the importance of encouraging students to think critically and creatively, which are principles I strive to uphold in my classroom.

How do you take care of your mental health?

To take care of my mental health, I weight train and exercise daily and eat a healthy vegetarian diet. I will also be found walking my dog Peanut when I am not at school.

Read more of Odalis' interviews: