STEM teacher in New Jersey finds community to revitalize love for teaching
This story is part of a series that celebrates Teacher Appreciation Month. Each day in May, we will introduce to you an outstanding educator within the Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
The other night, Priscilla Heredia hung up from a Zoom call with a deep sigh of relief and a contented smile.
Like most of us, her connections right now are over the phone or on a video call at home, but her cup was filled nonetheless because of Melisa, the smiling, comforting human on the other end of the call.
Three years ago, Priscilla and Melisa were strangers – merely fellow teachers in different states. Different students, different days, each needing each other still. They found one another through Flipgrid and have become “sisters” ever since.
For Priscilla, Flipgrid isn’t just an additive tool for the classroom. It’s an everlasting family – a community to retreat to, people to rely on, inspiration to guide you, friendship to heal you, and people across the world who remind you to strive again.
“As I think you know, we are the misfits,” Priscilla says. “We’re different, but then you find your other people, also on their own misfit islands, and you make your islands match up and you save each other. My Flipgrid family came to my rescue, and then they carried me, too.”
A Family of Ideas and Support
Priscilla has been teaching in New Jersey for 20 years. She began in primary then taught for a long while in computer programming before moving three years ago into STEM and gifted ed for elementary. It was a significant transition for her.
“I thought I had it all under control,” Priscilla says. “I thought I was doing everything right, but I needed to find my place. I had been doing the same thing for 17 years, then suddenly, I wasn’t the expert anymore. It was very humbling for me. I had never taught fourth-grade literacy or advanced math before. I had to crash-course everything!”
Amid the change, she joined Twitter and found solace in a global educator community who had ideas, answers, positive energy and support.
“The community opened my eyes to so many things we weren’t doing that we could be doing,” Priscilla says. “And you know how it goes, when you know better, you have to do better, right? I just had to, for me and my kids.”
Priscilla’s heart is wide open. She shares her joy with abandon and lives with a true zest for life. When she endured such big changes, she found herself seeking that forgone bountiful spirit.
“When I found Flipgrid, I was going through a very difficult year, transitioning my job and personal problems going on, and the community was there for me,” Priscilla says. “These are real, authentic people I could talk to about anything. They became a family for me who really cared about my wellbeing.
“I know we all have these stories, but Flipgrid literally changed everything for me and changed me as an educator for the better. I found what I was missing.”
Priscilla is a creative spirit – she loves art, writing, singing, dancing and theater – and once she started meeting people in the Flipgrid community and attending events, she started creating again, too.
“I’m really big on creating over consuming, and Flipgrid really fulfills my creativity,” says Priscilla, who’s added nearly 100 topics to the Disco Library. “I probably made the most things I ever have that first month!”
She was creating herself anew, too.
“My outlook has changed, and so has my confidence level on what I’m capable of,” Priscilla says. “I now fight for what I need to give my students. The spark is there again.”