Ms. Gandara was born in East Los Angeles and grew up in Silver Lake, raised by parents who were legal immigrants from Guadalajara, Mexico. She developed her love of reading and writing through her father, who, despite his being frequently exhausted from work in construction, still found time to bring her books and journals, and encouraged her to read and write in them.
She attended Rosemont Elementary School on Temple Boulevard, then Virgil Junior High, where her art teacher encouraged her to attend art school. Despite this, Ms. Gandara was determined to become a teacher, and graduated with honors from John Marshall High School in 1983, and then went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in child development from Cal State Los Angeles. In 1990, she earned her Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential with a Bilingual Emphasis.
Ms. Gandara has worked as a teacher at Micheltorena Elementary School for 26 years! Her teaching experience ranges from kindergarten to fifth grade, and taught bilingual education here for eight years. She states “when bilingual education was stripped away from Micheltorena and other public schools, I felt like a part of me was taken away as well.” She is thrilled that Micheltorena is starting a dual language program for 2012-2013.
Ms. Gandara is also a teaching Mentor at school, where she collaborates and works with colleagues to problem-solve and refine their teaching skills. She finds this experience is helpful with her own career improvement efforts, as well.
She states she relies on evidence-based and research-proven techniques to guide her approach to teaching. She has had extensive training in language arts instruction, including Open Court reading system (our previous reading program), Treasures, which is our current reading program, Thematic Units, Shared Inquiry, and Thinking Maps modalities. She has also studied language development for second language learners.
Ms. Gandara incorporates arts into the curriculum of her classroom, and to better facilitate these activities, she took several visual arts classes on her own offered through the University of Phoenix. She has also pursued technology courses which emphasized teaching technology-based projects across content areas such as language arts, science, math and music.
For the 2011-2012 school year she is teaching 3rd grade, as well working towards a National Board Certification in teaching. Ms. Gandara says: “Teaching is my number one priority in my life. The students I work with every day inspire me to continue in this profession. I love Micheltorena, and so do the children in my classroom.”
Ms. Gandara lives in Eagle Rock with her husband and four children. When not teaching, Ms. Gandara enjoys collecting, including insects, stamps, coins, and antique silverware.