Johnathan Salinas was studying Music Performance at Texas State before joining Literacy First. He’s now a first-grade teacher. In this Alumni Q&A, he talks about how the program gave him the “strong foundation” he needed to begin a career in education.
What were you doing before joining Literacy First?
Before joining Literacy First, I was finishing my undergraduate studies at Texas State University, studying Music Performance.
Why did you decide to give a year of national service? Why did you choose to serve with Literacy First?
During my senior year at Texas State, the question of next steps was something that I was constantly thinking about. I knew I wanted to make a difference in whatever I chose to do next. I chose Literacy First because the program was able to help me with both things: future ambitions and the ability to make a difference.
What are some of your favorite and/or most impactful memories from your time as a tutor?
One of my most impactful memories was the ability to bring a lending ear to students who want to be heard. The students that we serve at Literacy First deserve that gift of mentorship and literacy. Being able to do both was a life-changing experience.
Have you stayed in touch with your fellow tutors?
The connections that I made with the teams I worked with has far outlasted my time at Literacy First. We keep each other updated and support one another. All of my previous teammates are either finishing graduate/PhD studies or are professionals in the Austin nonprofit sector.
What are you up to now?
I am currently a first-grade teacher in the Austin Independent School District. I have been at Graham Elementary for the past two years.
How did your experience as a tutor impact your future plans for a career?
My experience was a great guide to ease me into the field of education. Literacy First helped give me a strong foundation in primary education, which still affects the way I teach my first-grade students.
What else have you been doing since you completed your service with Literacy First? Tell us about your life/career/continued service.
Along with teaching in Austin, I am currently in a Masters Program, studying Instructional Design & Education Technology at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Upon graduation in 2020, I am hoping to enter the field of instructional design.