In Lauren Sepulveda’s social studies classroom at Clinton Avenue School in New Haven, seventh and eighth graders learn more than names, places and dates—they become global thinkers and empathetic citizens. Students meet guest speakers who share their personal experiences during World War II, the Korean War and the Rwandan genocide. In one unit, Sepulveda had students propose and draft a bill, then present it to the class for passage. Another assignment asked students to examine their textbook’s presentation of the Revolutionary War, not to memorize what was there but to figure out what and who might be missing. The pupils drafted a new chapter that included the stories of significant minorities; with Sepulveda’s help, they submitted their revised text to the publisher for consideration in the next edition. Students maintain personalized learning portfolios to track their data and monitor their progress.
Sepulveda’s focus on making learning meaningful for all students is paying off: During the 2018-19 school year, Sepulveda’s students improved significantly on the district writing assessments—the metric she uses as a social studies teacher. Her seventh grade students went from 98% scoring basic in the beginning of the year to 91% scoring proficient or higher by the end of the year. Similarly, Sepulveda increased the proficiency of her eighth graders from 98% of them scoring basic at the beginning of the year to 91% of them scoring proficient or higher by year end.
The team leader for seventh and eighth grades, Sepulveda has served on the leadership team and helped create the school’s continuous improvement plan. She co-chaired one of the school’s NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation committees and mentors new teachers. Sepulveda sits on the district’s equity and strategic planning committees, presents professional development and has led the district’s social studies curriculum efforts. She works with the Connecticut State Department of Education to recruit potential new teachers.
Sepulveda holds high expectations for her students and encourages them to take on leadership roles. She advises Clinton Avenue’s student council and serves on the school culture and climate committee. After Sepulveda took 20 students to a 3-day leadership program in Vermont, the group decided to pursue a relationship with the local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, encouraging the rest of the class to join in. Sepulveda organizes community service opportunities throughout the year, including hurricane relief efforts, food drives, and projects with the Wounded Warriors and Red Cross. A passionate, approachable educator, Sepulveda builds trusting relationships with students and their families.
Sepulveda earned a bachelor’s from Southern Connecticut State University in 2010 and a master’s from Concordia University-Portland in 2016. She is currently pursuing a degree in educational leadership at Quinnipiac University.
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