Passion for Justice

Challenging Eurocentric Ideas in Education

by Anagha Garudangiri

Jessica Albavera is currently earning a master’s degree in human rights education at USF. She is also a 4th grade associate teacher at The Hamlin School in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood. “It was almost like fate,” Albavera said when asked what drew her to education. “My father was an educator, and I often say I was practically raised in the classroom.” Albavera applied to USF during the pandemic because it addressed everything that didn’t sit well with her about the current education system.

The classroom, according to Albavera, is ever-evolving. She believes that the ideal classroom is one where there is no achievement-based system. Education should emphasize personal growth and collective responsibility. Her work focuses on age-appropriate ways to bring important topics into the classroom. She chose to work with young children because of their curiosity to understand the concepts of social and racial justice. Some of the topics she is keen on addressing are the history of indigenous people and different resistance movements in history. 

We’re all of equal importance. I learn from my students just as much as they learn from me."

“USF uses the model of the classroom that humanizes education – that we’re people outside the program. We acknowledged the ongoing pandemic and the challenges educators worldwide are facing, and the university made accommodations that break the barrier between student and teacher.” Albavera said of her experience as a student. Now she has grown to love teaching again because of the program.

“I get to teach what isn’t always part of the dominant culture. It brings a sense of belonging, of community. These are the values I try to impart to my students.” Albavera is interested in how teachers promote an education that is inclusive and healing for communities of color within a system that was built on inequity. The focus group for her research was educators teaching kindergarten to grade 4 at The Hamlin School. She found that her work provided a space for solidarity and opened a dialogue on how to have a support system for educators to work together.

Albavera’s goal is to design curricula that focuses on multicultural education and creates diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) positions at schools, universities, or even corporations that counter the systemic oppression of their employees. Her core belief, she states, “We’re all of equal importance. I learn from my students just as much as they learn from me. Education today is so fast-paced and achievement based. I want to create a space where the children can learn at their own pace.”