Spanish teacher recognized for research

Kaitlin Musante

Spanish teacher Joaquin Fernandez-Castro has worked to improve the Los Angeles education system by publishing his research on the common strengths of top private and public schools in the New York Academy of Public Education Research Journal.

While studying education for his doctorate program at Vanderbilt University, Fernandez-Castro was inspired to complete his own independent research on the similarities between the top 10 “magnet schools, charter schools and private schools” across the nation and discover what qualities make a school successful. After the New York Academy of Public Education Research Journal reached out to him on LinkedIn to see if he had written anything for publication, Fernandez-Castro decided to share his findings with others.

“It’s good to know that other people value what you are doing and think that you have interesting insight and ideas that are worth exploring and thinking about,” Fernandez-Castro said.

Fernandez-Castro is also using his research to help inspire underprivileged children to graduate from middle school through Spark, a non-profit organization that pairs middle school students with a mentor in a local business to provide opportunities for exploration.

“It’s hard at Harvard-Westlake where there are kids from privileged families to understand how underprivileged families really are unable to see any future,” Fernandez-Castro said. “They have been bottled down in the circle of poverty and lack of opportunity and to offer them a glimpse of hope, a mentorship to show them a potential future, is a whole different game.”

As a member of the advisory board for the program, Fernandez-Castro said that he will use his research to refine and build upon the curriculum of the mentorship program and advise families. He said that he is grateful for the opportunities to share his work with others on the board.

“[The research and the program] are ways for me to find out what can be done to really improve education,” Fernandez-Castro said. “I think that it’s really important to share this with the community.”