My mom was a teacher who taught students who were blind and visually impaired, and as a kid, I spent afternoons in her classroom. That’s where I first began to love helping people who might not be served by the traditional education system.
I now have a PhD in educational policy. I want to figure out how to help all students succeed.
Even before coming to Microsoft, I’d heard about TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools – a Microsoft Philanthropies program that has reached 75,000 students since it was founded 10 years ago by a Microsoft employee). I thought it was a fascinating model because the focus is on partnering with the teacher—which has a long-term outcome if a volunteer can’t be there the next year. And it’s great to be able to serve rural schools whose students need it the most.
So I applied to volunteer, and I’m now going on my second year teaching at a small town high school in Leavenworth, Washington, where I often connect using video conferencing.
I think the best way to express gratitude to those who helped me is to try and do the same for the next generation of learners.—Maria Mendiburo, from West Palm Beach, Florida