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A teacher’s role is one that takes a generation of students as an input and gives off as an output a generation of curious, knowledgeable, and self-disciplined young men and women who never settle into an existence of complacency and never stop looking for injustices to change.

TJ Alcala
2014 Fellow

TJ Alcala

2014 Fellow
Cistercian Preparatory School
Irving, Texas

Prior to college, TJ had entertained the idea of becoming a teacher. He realized this was the right choice during his first year at Fordham University, when he found himself in a Euclidean geometry course. Having taken geometry in high school, his basic remembrances provided him with a strong place to build new understandings. It also made him the go-to guy for help. Conducting study groups and tutoring his peers gave him a feeling of tangible joy that fed his desire to become a teacher.

While completing the five-year Master of Science and Teaching program at Fordham, he took part in two projects that were organized through the school’s Global Outreach program: a service-based project in Belize and an immersion-based project in the Adirondack State Park in New York, for which he served as a chaperone. Additionally, TJ taught at a high school in Gulu, Uganda for seven weeks. Through a humanitarian effort started by a family friend, he was given the opportunity to tutor and mentor a talented blind student in preparation for a national math exam. He was also given the opportunity to teach an integrated class of blind and sighted students in music, art, math, and environmental science during his time in Uganda.

From the KSTF Fellowship, TJ hopes “to find an exchange of ideas, advice, suggestions, warnings, encouragement, constructive criticism, and support from peers who understand that becoming a good teacher is a process that one cannot complete individually.”

For as long as TJ can remember, he has played music. In the beginning, it was a requirement in his home to learn and study an instrument. As TJ grew older, playing music with other people became one of his main passions. Aside from music, he enjoys climbing, hiking, skiing, rafting, and playing frisbee.