Promoting diversity and inclusion is an ongoing priority at Noble. We strongly believe in ensuring our staff has an inclusive environment to collaborate in offering our students the diverse education they deserve. We realize that teachers are the number one predictor of student success, and because of that we focus on hiring the best individuals.
In this section we would like to feature some of the hard-working, dedicated educators who drive Noble’s mission.
Interview with Adriana Villegas
Where did you grow up? What is your favorite memory from high school?
I grew up in the West Town community of Chicago, and I still live there today with my children, Sofia (10) and Diego (9). I attended Wells Academy High School and was fortunate to be a student in Mr. Milkie’s math classes throughout all four years. My favorite memory was a daily one: we listened to Mexican music with him, specifically Banda and Rancheras, before the start of math class. And, at times, he secretly tried to dance to the rhythm beat.
Where did you go to college and what did you study? Why did you pursue that course of study?
I attended DePaul University and earned a BA in Elementary Education with a concentration in Latin American Studies. I attended DePaul because it was a local, affordable option for me and gave me the opportunity to live on campus. My dad’s father was a teacher in Mexico, my older sister is an elementary school math teacher, and my mentor is a former high school math teacher. All three of these individuals influenced my desire to pursue teaching. However, being selected as a Golden Apple Scholar solidified my commitment to teaching in a school of need to make a positive impact in the lives of my students.
The idea of helping others and making a positive impact in my community through education is the root of why I teach.
What influenced you to work in education?
The idea of helping others and making a positive impact in my community through education is the root of why I teach. However, not having any teachers that looked like me, not even my Spanish teacher in high school, and witnessing Mr. Milkie’s strong work ethic and daily investment in his own students also influenced my decision to work in education.
What do you enjoy about your role at Noble?
At Noble Street, I love that I am part of an amazing College Dream Team committed to helping all of our students navigate the rigorous and labor-‐intensive college process; maximize financial resources; and realistically imagine a life rich with options.
A diverse staff allows for more global growth within the walls of an educational setting.
What has been your most memorable moment as a Noble employee?
Walking through Alumni Hall and reading off the names of the college graduates from the Class of 2008 (the first class I counseled) brought tears of joy to my eyes and ignited me with even more fire and purpose for doing the work that I do every single day.
What does diversity mean to you? How does having a diverse staff benefit students?
Like many of my students, when I was in high school I initially understood diversity at a surface level, basing it directly on race, ethnicity and socio-‐economic background. However, my goal is to help my students understand diversity as layers beneath that: diversity is a celebration of differences, similarities and exchanges in culture; interest, beliefs and trajectory. A diverse staff brings experience, perspective and different understandings of the world to a classroom. A diverse staff allows for more global growth within the walls of an educational setting.
Celebrate what makes you unique, stay humble, and never forget where you come from.
Has a teacher of your same ethnic background ever had a strong impact on your education?
My Latin American Studies professor, Dr. Lourdes Torres, was my first Latina teacher that exposed me to the history and struggles of Latinos in the United States in a scholarly manner. This differed drastically from what I learned indirectly through the media and personal narratives. Dr. Torres exposed me to the sad reality of census data in relationship to education and poverty levels of minority groups within the US, but she taught me that I have a responsibility to change the data.
As a teacher of color who serves a population comprised of 98%students of color, what advice do you want to impart on your students?
The art of code-‐switching is an essential skill in order to navigate the world. Understand that your personal trajectory is unique and it matters. Celebrate what makes you unique, stay humble, and never forget where you come from. Be proud and know your roots -‐ while also allowing yourself to learn from others.