Michelle Lopez photoA proud Chicana from Denver, Maestra Michelle Lopez has been committed to supporting Denver students and their families for many years. Michelle began her teaching career in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. After coming back to Denver in 2004, she began working in the Denver Public Schools at Bruce Randolph School as a paraprofessional where she managed the school detention pass room. Michelle received her teaching license from Metropolitan State University in Denver in 2007 and currently works as a 4th grade ELA-S/ELA-E bilingual teacher at Garden Place Elementary.

Anyone who has met Michelle and/or has had the pleasure of seeing her teach, knows that she brings her whole heart and soul into her work. Her classroom walls are lined with Mexican and Indigenous symbolism, such as Aztec art, a Selena plaque, and her students often recite the Mayan In Lak’Ech poem as they transition from one activity to another. Michelle draws on her experiences as a Chicana growing up in Denver to relate to her students, their families, and to motivate her advocacy and activism through her teaching.

For example, Michelle took something she learned from her own grandparents to inspire a family journal project that she now completes with her families each year, where she asks them to document their stories with their children. She then draws on that knowledge to inspire her own curriculum and instruction. When asked about her teaching and her work with her bilingual students, Michelle explained: “I’ve always felt that my role as an educator is to help our youth discover their worth and see themselves as necessary and important in this world. Language gets us there, which I’ve discovered through my grandparents’ teachings. Although I wasn’t fully fluent in Spanish until I was in my twenties, I have always felt very connected and proud of my cultural roots and experienced oppression firsthand.”

In addition to being a powerful bilingual educator and a mother to three children, Maestra Lopez completed her Master of Arts Degree through the BUENO center as part of the TILDE project in the summer of 2020. Michelle explained that her experiences with the TILDE cohort supported her in becoming a stronger advocate for bilingual education: “I went from loving our marginalized communities to wanting to create change, but it was the BUENO center that gave me the alas to do so! The knowledge, the strategies, skills, and inspiration confirmed that I was on the right path but more importantly, it put the pieces together. Now I see my work as a bilingual educator as a form of activism. The TILDE program taught me how to do that! Now I can disrupt systems of oppression while honoring and effectively serving the natural activist in
every child.”

Michelle Lopez familia