10 Years at IslandWood: Joana Chacon

In August, TAF’s Fellows will return to the Martinez Fellowship’s annual three-day summer retreat where teachers of color receive professional development, community support, and participate in invigorating sessions. For the last 10 years, the retreat has been held at IslandWood, an environmental education center on Brainbridge Island, WA, and has become a tradition that our Fellows to look forward to.

To celebrate, we’re highlighting one Fellow from each of Martinez Fellowship’s ten cohorts.

Meet Joana Chacon of Cohort 1, a high school English teacher at Interlake High School of Bellevue School District.

TAF: What was one win or winning moment this past school year?

Joana: I’d say watching kids perform in a multicultural assembly I helped organize. Indian, Latino, Asian, African cultures [were represented] — it was inspiring.

TAF: Why did you want to become a teacher, and why are you still a teacher?

Joana: I am in love with literature. I also take great pleasure in helping people. Put those two together and you get a high school English teacher.

TAF: What do you with the world knew about being a teacher of color?

Joana: That it’s important for students to connect with people who have similar lived experiences in order to reconcile their place in the world and imagine a better future for themselves.

TAF: What is missing from public education today?

Joana: Mental health resources. You have to teach the whole child. So many kids are going through a lot of hurt, and they’re sitting in our classrooms. We can help them become healthier individuals which will in turn make them better able to achieve success in school.

” It’s important for students to connect with people who have similar lived experiences in order to reconcile their place in the world and imagine a better future for themselves.”

TAF’s Martinez Fellowship Program recruits and retains teachers of color in Washington State. Founded in 2008, its 151 Fellows impact over 9,100 students by providing representation and creating equitable academic environments.

By 2038, TAF plans to add over 2,400 teachers of color to the fellowship. Learn more about the Martinez Fellowship.

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Martinez Fellow Treneicia Gardner offers reading support to a student.