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CMS principal uses her childhood experience to shape kids’ futures

CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools principal calls on her own experience as an English language learner to support students.

Alejandra Garcia is in the top job at Governors’ Village STEM Academy in northeast Charlotte. But when she started on the other side of the classroom, school was a challenge.

“Kindergarten, I clearly remember sitting there like, ‘what is she saying?’ Or ‘I have no idea what this lady wants me to do,’” Garcia told Channel 9′s Elsa Gillis.

Garcia didn’t speak English. Her family moved from Colombia to New York when she was 4 years old.

Garcia says her background gives her a unique perspective that inspired her to become a teacher and eventually a principal.

“Knowing what kids experience, but also knowing the potential they have,” she said.

Garcia has been the principal at Governors’ Village for five years. She is the only Hispanic principal in CMS.

Garcia hopes that changes. She told Channel 9 about the importance of that representation for many of her students.

“They’re like ‘What? You’re a principal and you’re Spanish and you speak my language? You’re one of us!’ They’ll say that,” Garcia said. “It’s very fulfilling to be able to see the kids’ faces just light up when they see that you are just like they are and I always remind them like just where I’m at, you’re going to get there too.”

>>> In the video at the top of this page, Channel 9′s Elsa Gillis reports on Garcia’s strong sense of identity and how she’s using it to motivate students.

(WATCH BELOW: High school graduate teaches elementary school through CMS early college program)

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