Building something new really does take a village.
The Teaching Well began incubating in the hearts and minds of many of our current and former team members many years ago. And as we grew, we benefitted from the intelligence, vision and passion of many powerful educators who are no longer on our team. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them, and we want to honor them for all that they gave to the foundational vision of this organization.
Air Gallegos’ teaching career spans Southern and Northern California and Denver, Colorado, where she lived for five years and served as a part of the curriculum design team and as a culturally-responsive teaching lead for Strive Preparatory Schools and Smart High School. After years in the classroom teaching English and ethnic studies, she dedicated her energy to bringing culturally-responsive teaching methods into classrooms as well as serving her school as an instructional coach and professional development lead.
in 2016, Air moved back to California to focus her efforts towards social-emotional learning for students, and sustainability and mindfulness practices for teachers, and created much of The Teaching Well’s initial professional development series, as well as our internal structures for assessment, community building and reflection. Air believes deeply in the power of community, in knowing one’s self, and working collaboratively to make a difference.
Erica Favela’s first year in the classroom was probably not much different than most new teachers’ experiences: she was stressed, addicted to caffeine, and exhausted. She knew if she was going to make it through the year, something needed to change. Ultimately, when she changed her diet, everything else changed. She finally had the energy to keep up with her third graders, as well as the mental fortitude to teach and lead them with patience and positivity.
After four years at Greenleaf Elementary in Oakland, she made the painful decision to step out of the classroom to pursue further studies in holistic nutrition. Her whole health journey began in the classroom, so working with The Teaching Well to support teachers was exactly in alignment with her roots and goals. She created and consulted on all of our Nutrition for Teachers Professional Development.
Candice Valenzuela is a proud Afro-Latina native of Watts, CA who has worked in the Bay Area education community for 13 years. Candice has coached, trained and mentored hundreds of educators in Bay Area, Los Angeles and Indianapolis schools.
Candice has a BA in Humanities from Loyola Marymount University, and an MA in East-West Psychology from the California Institute for Integral Studies. Candice is also certified as a mindful yoga teacher through the Niroga Institute and Candice teaches as an adjunct at the University of San Francisco School of Education and the San Francisco State Department of Health Education. Candice is a lifelong student of healing, spirituality and wellness and has studied with community healers, indigenous elders and mindfulness teachers throughout the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Oaxaca. She believes that the keys to social transformation lie at the intersections of education, healing and justice. She co-created much of our Equity-focused professional development was was integral in supporting The Teaching Well in reflecting on our internal equity systems.