The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

Anna Reznick

Yulisa Cruz smiles in her office, with the sun coming through the window. Cruz said her goal for this year is to build understanding between teachers and students.

Specific Learning Differences Teacher Yulisa Cruz

Raised in New York City, Specific Learning Differences Teacher Yulisa Cruz has years of experience with big cities. However, Cruz said London has already made its mark on her as a truly unified place. 

“I walk down the street and I hear so many different languages,” she said. “It’s not like pockets of people, you know New York City was very much kind of like segregated … Here, it seems like everyone’s everywhere.”

Although Cruz loves the diversity of London, she said she was nervous about facing a winter with little sun. However, she said her optimism keeps her hopeful.

“I’m just going to be the sun during those cloudy days in London,” Cruz said.

Furthemore, Cruz said this optimism fuels her goal of uplifting students – a target she consistently works toward.  

“My goal is always to empower high schoolers to learn how to go on that journey of self-love,” Cruz said. “Because I personally believe that when you love yourself, you’re able to love others.”

Cruz said her career in SLD began when she taught a room of 28 students and found that 15 of them used unique learning styles.

“I just didn’t feel equipped to teach them, so I decided to do my Master’s in special ed,” she said.

My goal is always to empower high schoolers to learn how to go on that journey of self-love

— Special Learning Differences Teacher Yalisa Cruz

After receiving her master’s degree, Cruz worked in assessing students as to whether or not they fell into the SLD category. Cruz also speaks Spanish and said her decision was fueled by concern that someone learning English could be mistaken as someone with a learning disability.

“Part of my passions have been equity in education and ability and also equity in language,” Cruz said.

Additionally, Cruz said she sees her job as an opportunity to help high school students as they transition into adult life. Although she has taught students of all ages, Cruz has a special appreciation for high school students, hoping her inspiring attitude will work as a last attempt to help students believe in themselves. 

“[High school students] are at a fork in the road, like [they’re] about to embark on this big journey of young adulthood,” Cruz said.

As someone who is the embodiment of “sunshine,” Cruz said her mantra for living a more hopeful life is, “I never lose, I either win or I learn.”

Eva Marriott-Fabre

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