By Aneesh Karuppur ’21
This fall, Sra. Alexa López joins Pingry as a Spanish teacher and the Assistant to the Chair of the Department of Diversity and Inclusion. As a member of the World Languages Department, she teaches two sections of Spanish 2 in the Upper School. In her role within the Department of Diversity and Inclusion, she teaches one section of the sixth grade Cultural Competency class. In addition, as the Assistant Chair to this department, Sra. López works with affinity groups to provide the “resources [students] need to have great conversations” as well as with the Multicultural Teams to make sure that they “have the tools they need to work with all children.”
Sra. López holds a B.S. in Business and Marketing from New Jersey’s Kean University and a Master of Arts in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from the Teacher’s College at Columbia University in New York.
When a friend asked her to teach a Spanish course, Sra. López obliged and, realizing her love for teaching, left her work in business. For the next seven years, Sra. López taught at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York and at the Millbrook School in Millbrook, New York.
A native Puerto Rican, Sra. López is a native speaker of Spanish and understands that many nuances of the language can sometimes be overlooked in school curriculum. When asked about how that immersive experience of growing up in a Spanish-speaking territory shaped her teaching, Sra.López said that she grew up “immersed in English first and then immersed in only Spanish and back and forth, and so I believe that you have to be in the language as much as possible to be able to absorb it and use it. I try to put myself in a place of just absorbing language and try to give that to my students.”
When asked about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the Pingry community, Sra. López said, “I think it’s one of the most important things… it’s one of our four pillars of the school. And rightfully so, because there are people here with all kinds of backgrounds, and we welcome more.” She understands that everyone wants to “feel needed and known for who they are.” One of her main goals for working in the Department of Diversity and Inclusion is to “offer more exposure to affinity groups… I want students to know how helpful [affinity groups] are. I really want to get to know the community, first of all, and then adapt from there.”
Sra. López’s outside interests include reading books that discuss topics that combine her work and her personal lives, such as the subject of identity development. Just like the rest of us, she also enjoys vacationing. Sra. López also loves to spend time with her family and friends.
So far, Sra. López has truly been enjoying Pingry, explaining that “this campus offers so many resources that I haven’t had in other campuses.” She appreciates that everybody’s health and wellness “are really promoted here… and everybody’s so kind.” Of course, another important part of the Pingry experience is the food. When asked about the lunch, Sra. López said, “The lunch is going to get me in trouble because I’m having way too much of it.”