January 18, 2023

Sally Castillo

Secondary Education, MAT ’22

Sally Castillo was inspired by her own educators to pursue a career in teaching, noting that L&C’s program puts working with all students, particularly BIPOC students, at the forefront.

Sally Castillo Sally Castillo, Secondary Teacher Education ’22, was led to Lewis & Clark after being inspired by her own educators.

“My junior year of college, I attended a workshop facilitated by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to be that educator.”

After graduating from college, Castillo became that educator, spending a few years working with Planned Parenthood on a grant to improve sexual education curricula in Multnomah County. This experience allowed Castillo to hone her teaching skills.

“Even though I don’t teach sex ed anymore, a lot of the strategies carry over into inclusive and affirming education. I try to practice what I teach in the classroom, including leaning in to questions that seem sticky and finding ways to honor and appreciate every student in the room.”

Castillo notes although her career has shifted a few times, the one aspect that she enjoys the most has stayed the same: working with youth.

Castillo made the leap to apply for the secondary teacher education program at Lewis & Clark during the spring of 2021, after realizing she wanted to work with youth full time. The flexibility of the Lewis & Clark admissions process allowed Castillo to make this leap sooner than she expected.

“Lewis & Clark was still accepting applications in March, which I believe is pretty unique. I wanted a program that I could start as soon as possible, and Lewis & Clark had availability. I really do commend Lewis & Clark for keeping applications open through the spring. It reduced my application barriers, and everyone was so supportive. I am grateful that when I decided to pursue this career path, Lewis & Clark held the door wide open for me.”

Throughout her time in the program, Castillo has had the opportunity to build on her teaching skills, particularly in the area of social justice, equity, and access.

“I appreciate how almost every class I’ve taken at L&C has intentionally talked about race, especially how teachers think and talk about race, and how to check your biases with students and cultivate a curriculum that honors students of all races.”

Particularly, Castillo notes that the program puts working with all students, particularly BIPOC students, at the forefront.

“I love that one of my required textbooks was Teaching for Black Lives, which is one of the most consequential books I’ve ever read. I think the program challenges white people to think about how race and power operates in a classroom, and it’s something teachers should be thinking about their whole careers.”

Castillo hopes to bring these lessons to her future students, both formally and informally.

“The biggest part of social justice for me is making sure that every student in my future classroom feels accepted and honored for who they are. I want to create a classroom where every student can be their authentic self.”

Additionally, Castillo says, “a big part of social justice is a willingness to examine who you are and your identity, and to grow the humility to know that your way of seeing and experiencing the world is not the way that others see and experience it. I hope to build a curriculum where students can read about those who experience the world both similarly to and very differently from them. They can then use that reading to write about their own unique experiences and start to share that part of themselves with others.”

Castillo credits the relationships she built with both her cohort and faculty members as significant support for her throughout her time in the program.

“I love my cohort. We collectively celebrate our successes and support each other through challenges.”

Castillo also appreciates the relationships she has built with faculty. They have supported Castillo through the job search process, particularly through the organization of a job fair, a panel discussion with recent graduates of the program, and through individual resume building support.

“L&C faculty have really helped me learn and grow, and I feel that they are working with me, not just guiding me. It feels like a partnership and not an academic hierarchy.”