Education and Change Became Intuitive for Dr. José Medina
It is not every day that you meet someone who stands for education and change who has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, district leader and now, an educational leader and researcher focused on dual language education. Wow! Learn about Dr. José Medina and our exclusive interview!
Education and Change can happen for individuals when they set their minds to it. It is not every day that you meet someone who has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, district leader and now, an educational leader and researcher focused on dual language education.
José comes from humble beginnings from El Paso, Texas, the same border town I was born and raised in. Seeing him thrive no matter the cards he has been dealt with is very inspiring. -Lisa Caprelli
He feels that if you see something that needs to be changed, then take action to bring about that change. Don’t wait for others. Take action to make a change and help others change.
SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO BE FUNNY
Dr. José Medina has no qualms about being an outspoken advocate for education and teaching for kids and he will get his messages known whether it’s using Facebook, Twitter or even funny videos or dances on Tik Tok for families, educators and children to smile. He gets that the time for teaching is now and with technology he uses these platforms well.
“Sometimes, people say that the United States is a melting pot. But, I disagree. In a melting pot, you have to forget where you come from and the language spoken by your family. I believe that we, instead, should be a stew pot, where everyone can keep their identity while also being a part of a yummy dish called the United States.”
FIRST GENERATION MEXICAN-AMERICAN
He will tell you that his full name is “Dr. José Luis Medina Hernández Franco López Jr. Díaz-Cruz! It’s a long name, but it’s mine!” His parents José Luis and Margarita moved to El Paso, TX from Ciudad Juárez in México in 1971 and was born shortly thereafter.
While his parents only had an elementary school education, he struggled in school since he did not speak English, but he was determined to learn and thrive. As he learned the English language, he became comfortable in school and knew his passion would be teaching.
Luckily, mi mamá me enseñó español (understood English) and so now, I am fully bilingual and biliterate – and I am José – not Joe.”
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, BE CREATIVE
Being creative with what he had, he would get his siblings to gain knowledge as his students. He would share the information he learned in school with them. He knew the information was important and he also knew it was important to learn the English language so his lessons would be in both Spanish and English.
“As the oldest of three children, I would force my brother Gilberto and sister Vanessa to be my students! I also knew that Spanish was just as important as English. So, I focused on sharing both languages with them. From that point on, my mission was clear. I would be a teacher!”
Wanting to become a teacher was evident as a young child. And he took that role further and became a lead and now is a leader in dual language education.
EDUCATION AND CHANGE
Dr. Medina shares references to help teachers meet the needs of the students. As a leader, he feels that it is his place to ensure all students get social justice and the education that they deserve.
Education and change have gone hand in hand for him. He has certainly changed a lot since beginning his career as a teacher in 1995. Schools were not always equal for all students. There is still a long way to go to make sure every student is treated fairly.
“Black, Indigenous, Students of Color have not always been treated well in U.S. schools. Specifically, with social distancing restrictions, it has become even more apparent that we still have a long way to go to ensure that educational access really is provided to ALL students and not just those that already come from privilege.”
This dynamic man enjoys promoting social justice in everything that he does including education. He has a social media platform called #MedinaMondayMessage to offer professional development for teachers for free.
BECAUSE BOOKS MATTER FOR KIDS AND ADULTS
Reading allows families to increase their education and get involved in their communities. In addition to helping students learn, Dr. Medina enjoys getting adults excited and involved in education. He looks to help adults engage in books and help to read.
“Any book that brings a light onto a community whose voice is rarely shared, is a resource that I want to share and speak about!”
He has also published two books of poetry for children. These books focus on his struggles learning the English language and his experience as an immigrant family on the border of the U.S. and México. This is a great way to keep ties with both cultures. He has his stories and the work of others to help advise children and their parents. These “testimonios,” along with many others, bring to the forefront literature that is truly inclusive of all children and families.
SHY LIKE JAZZ YET OUTSPOKEN IN EDUCATION
While Dr. Medina is outspoken when it comes to education and using social media to promote his positive messages to make sure all students get a proper education, many people may not know that he, like Unicorn Jazz, is actually shy.
It becomes easily for him to overcome being shy. Being passionate about education and change, his passion and love for people is evident. In small group settings, he tends to be timid and takes some time to feel comfortable.
FAMILY IS THE HAPPIEST PLACE TO BE
Every morning we each have the opportunity to make a difference and Dr. Medina surely is a shining example of that. ALL families deserve access to quality education. This is ultimately his driving force. He adds, “Seeing my siblings, my nephew and nieces have all of the opportunities that stem from my parents’ decision to come to this country in search of a better life, makes me happy.”
“Being with my family makes me happiest. Seeing my parents, who worked so hard to create access for my siblings and I, travel around the world with us, makes me happy.”
¡Lo que se dice, se hace! What you say, you do!
This mantra has stayed with him for life. Dr. Medina adds, “if we are not people of our word, then we have nothing.”
You can learn more about Dr. José Medina, Chief Educational Advocate on his website www.drjosemedina.com