AL DÍA Women of Merit Honoree: Nancy Cubano
Nancy Cubano is one of the AL DÍA Women of Merit honorees, in the field of education.
The AL DÍA Women of Merit event is a celebration of women who are breaking barriers and emerging in leadership positions across the nation.
Nancy Cubano, 7th grade SLA & Spanish FLES Teacher at Independence Charter School, is one of the honorees at the event, in the field of education.
In the lead-up to the event, AL DÍA asked each of the honorees about their biggest career challenges and accomplishments, gender equality in their industries and their of advice for other women looking to make their way into their particular field of work.
Here are Nancy Cubano's responses:
One of the most important challenges of my career has to be that, after 26 years of teaching in front of a classroom now due to a pandemic we had to learn how to teach our content to students via zoom. Balancing diverse learning needs remotely has been challenging. Satisfying all of them in the same way we do in person while approaching a particular curriculum has been tough. However, once you learn to come out of it, it will, of course, be an empowering experience.
One of the most important achievements of my career happened in 2012 when I got a letter from the White House telling me that I have been chosen to receive the White House Champions of Change Award given to just ten leaders from across the country for our dedication to improving the lives of others in our community. The award was given to me by President Barack Obama at the White House where we got to spend an entire morning talking to him and discussing how to improve the lives of latinos in our communities. Receiving an award from the hands of the first African American President will forever be the most important achievement of my entire life.
Women have been considerably over-represented in the teaching profession for decades. But the real issue is that female teachers have historically been undervalued and continue to be underpaid to a large extent because of the gender and race of the people who hold them. Pay equity means set wages must be sex and race neutral. The most recent data shows that Black women make 63 cents, Native American women make 60 cents and Latinx women make 55 cents for every dollar a white male makes. The wage gap exists, in part, because many women and people of color are still segregated into a few low-paying occupations. More than half of all women workers hold sales, clerical and jobs in education. Studies show that the more an occupation is dominated by women or people of color, the less it pays. March 24th is Equal Pay Day and it brings awareness to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages.
We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.Today's education is like teaching someone how to swim in a pond and then throwing them into a stormy sea. We need to start acknowledging the achievement gap we currently have in America, the inequalities in the system we currently operate and we must focus on providing ALL students with well-trained, effective educators and ALL educators with the training, support, and resources necessary to lead today’s classrooms.
My message to other women trying to make their way in education is to constantly remind themselves why they are in the profession. You’re not going to get rich, there are going to be more headaches than you anticipate, and there are going to be times that you tell yourself ‘it’s not worth it.’ If you keep in mind the kids you’re reaching and the difference you can make in one kid’s life, it will be worth it. I will tell them to focus on all the success stories, and don’t focus on the kids that won’t allow you to reach them (for whatever reason). Get to know your kids, and let them get to know you. You are a big part of their lives just as they are of yours. Feel their challenges, their sacrifices, their joys and their hurts, and you get memories that will last a lifetime.