Angelica Vega is part of a cohort of exemplary educators in the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program (REEP). Currently, Angelica is dean of students and college access counselor at East Early College High School in Houston ISD. As a Harvard student of the School Leadership Program, Angelica mentored new teachers, used data-driven strategies to improve student learning, and collaborated with administration and faculty to define and reach school goals at a Boston public middle school. This experience inspired her to help build a program in Texas that would meet the districtâ€™s goal of increasing college readiness among students.
What inspired you to be involved in education?
I first became a math teacher because it bothered me to know that some people think math is hard to do and so give up. Many parents think that because they are bad at math, their child will be bad at math, and that it is okay. I wanted to help dispel that myth.
What is the most immediate challenge you see in education?
The biggest challenge in education is retaining effective teachers. The classroom is where the magic happens. Teachers must not only be capable in their content and in pedagogy, but responsive to diverse student needs. In return, teachers should be compensated well, recognized for their successes, supported in their efforts, and provided structure and discipline for them to do the work.
Why did you choose REEP?
REEP was the only program in Houston that offered me an opportunity to become a part of an innovative learning environment that connected education and business. The best part of the whole program is the caliber of my peers. REEP participants are interested in finding solutions to the urgent problems schools face now while making sure the future classes of students benefit from these changes, too.
What are your future plans in education?
Public education is the new frontier in entrepreneurship. There are new and successful models of schooling from which we can learn and adapt to the needs of the students we serve. Last year, I experienced being initiated into the Early College High School model and graduating our first senior class. I look forward to continuing the success of my school.
How do you think your REEP experience will help?
The REEP experience has given me a lens through which to view my experiences: from questioning the structure of the school day, to creative uses of physical space and people, and to working within different organizational structures. The entrepreneurship component of REEP set the expectation that we limit ourselves as leaders when we donâ€™t ask â€śWhy not?â€ť