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Why I teach: Q&A with Marciano Gutierrez MA ’06

Marciano Gutierrez MA ’06
Marciano Gutierrez MA ’06

Why I teach: Q&A with Marciano Gutierrez MA ’06

Gutierrez, a social studies teacher in Mountain View, Calif., was recently honored by the U.S. Department of Education for Hispanic Heritage Month.

The following bio and interview were originally published by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics at

A first generation college student, Marciano Gutierrez MA ’06 acquired a strong educational background by earning a B.A. in History, Summa Cum Laude, from California State University in Fresno with a certificate in nonprofit leadership. Soon after, Marciano was named a National Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar and was awarded a full scholarship to Stanford University. At Stanford, Marciano earned a MA in Education with a professional preliminary teaching credential in Social Studies with English Learner Authorization. 

Marciano has put his extensive training to effective use as a social studies teacher at Alta Vista High School in Mountain View, CA. Marciano has firsthand experience with the transformative power of education, and strives to impart thought-provoking lessons upon his students in order to help them achieve globally competitive skills. Marciano’s illustrious list of achievements led him to be selected as the 2009 Region IV (Bay Area) Teacher of the Year by the California Continuation Education Association. In addition, a number of Gutierrez’s lessons have been featured in the California Continuation Education Association (CCEA) state newsletter and in the Alternative Education Principal’s Institute Handbook.

In 2011, Gutierrez was awarded a Fulbright Study Fellowship to China and was also named a National Teacher Fellow with the Hope Street Group. In 2012, Marciano was selected as a United States Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow in Washington D.C. In this role, Marciano helped facilitate communication between the Department and the nation’s teachers and provided a teacher’s perspective on national education policy as he worked with Secretary Arne Duncan and his senior staff.

Q: Why do you teach? 

Gutierrez: Education, quite literally, saved my life. A series of caring, passionate teachers provided me with an opportunity to become the first in my family to attend college and to not give into the negative social pressures and distractions of my neighborhood. I teach to provide my students, the majority of whom are kids of color and come from a background of poverty, an opportunity to earn a pathway to the middle class, as teachers had done for me years before. I teach because I want to show my kids that despite the challenges they face, they can do better, and I want to help them develop the necessary skills and knowledgebase so they can do just that

Q: What do you love about teaching? 

Gutierrez: As a teacher, I have received a number of accolades, but no honor or award reminds me of my purpose more than when I see my kids graduate. I teach at an alternative school that primarily serves students who have been identified as at-risk of dropping out. Everything I do in class is meant to help my students redefine their educational identity, so that they may see themselves as learners who are capable of greatness. Seeing my kids walk across the stage every June, embracing their new educational identities, makes the long hours and the many stresses of teaching worthwhile.

Q: When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? 

Gutierrez: There are a number of teachers who had a profound impact on my life. Ms. Julie Peterson pushed me to be a leader. Mr. John Hatch showed me that learning can be fun and engaging. Mrs. Nadine Takeuchi, followed my educational journey and encouraged me from second grade until graduate school. It takes my breath away, when I think of how different my life could have been had these individuals not been in my path.

For more profiles of educators as part of Hispanic Heritage Month, please visit the blog of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

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