Back to School: Life-long Learner Returns to Campus
Parking her car and making her way across the asphalt, a teacher in her first years passes the familiar scene of the school’s office lined by aged redwoods. She walks down the well-known halls toward her classroom and prepares for a day of learning with her second-grade students.
She has walked down the corridors countless times, sat at the cafeteria benches, and made memories on the playground.
She’s gazed at those old trees at the school’s front entrance many times, though they weren’t quite as tall when she first laid eyes on them—and neither was she.
Ariandy Jimenez Reyes, bilingual second grade teacher at Hoover Community School, is very well acquainted with the school. She is a longtime Hoover Husky who has returned as an educator.
“I really did enjoy my time at Hoover as a student,” she said of her nine years as a student at the Redwood City School District site. “I enjoyed the bilingual program. I learned a lot.”
Jimenez Reyes said she has always enjoyed teaching and working with children, beginning as a tutor when she was in high school. When she received her teaching degree, she knew that she wanted to work in a bilingual setting.
“Something that I noticed—even at a young age—were some of the inequities,” she recalled. “I wanted to come back and make sure that I was of help to my community.”
Her lifelong passion for learning is well matched by spirited and eager second graders at Hoover Community School.
“We meet students where they are with scaffolding,” Jimenez Reyes said. “I try to be student centered. I spend time getting to know them before diving into coursework. Then I can accommodate and adapt lessons to meet their needs.”
Those tailored lessons heighten student engagement, she said. Even something as seemingly simple as including favorite foods in a math equation makes the lesson more relevant and personal to the students.
“I do my best to include culturally relevant stories, but also include perspectives they are not used to seeing,” she said. “I really want my students to build perspective and learn about differences.”
Principal Ramiro Carranza said Jimenez Reyes has “hit the ground running” since day one in the classroom and while using digital tools to connect with students.
After seamlessly filling an open position for the middle school classroom, she moved into her second-grade room.
“She is resourceful, she comes from the community, she is an amazing example for the kids,” he said. “She’s a walking billboard for work ethic.”
And since students know that she once sat in their seat and walked the halls of Hoover, it adds something special, Carranza said.
“She connects with the families and shows that Hoover can do anything,” he said. “She is so positive and puts a smile on whatever the task is.”
Jimenez Reyes’ upbeat and can do attitude stuck out to her eighth-grade social studies teacher—who is now her colleague. Kevin Sugar said he remembers her well and fondly.
He recalled that a dedicated Jimenez Reyes and her middle school classmates helped lead the charge to bring back the school yearbook so many years ago.
“She had excellent grades, was a motivated student, and showed excellent leadership skills,” Sugar said. “It’s beautiful that she’s in there—she’s absolutely the perfect person.”
Sugar said it is also a “real treat as an educator” to be on faculty with a former student.
“There are quite a few levels of success in education, and some of it comes right away with grades or progress, but so seldom do I see the future of that success,” he said.
Jimenez Reyes has many successful years of teaching ahead of her and looks forward to gaining knowledge alongside her students.
“When you go into teaching, you are a lifelong learner,” she said. “One of my main goals is to continue learning new ways to meet needs.”