Head of the Class: Agripina Pascual
Agripina Pascual is known through halls of Mears Middle School as Ms. Grapes. Pascual doesn't know exactly what her nickname means, but she remembers acquiring it from her uncle while growing up in the Philippines.
The Philippines is also where Pascual started her teaching career.
"One thing is we don't have our own class (in the Philippines); teacher's don't have their own classrooms," explained Pascual. "Teachers move around. Students stay in one classroom. They get stuck with one set of classmates the entire day... we have about 60-70 students in the class."
With her experience teaching overseas, Pascual's perspective on education was welcomed by colleagues in the Anchorage School District. Her teaching style and approach has also caught the attention of her middle school Algebra students.
"You have all of these resources. You have to honor it, you have to respect it and use it," Pascual stresses to her students. "You have technology at your disposal. If you're going to use photo math (an application), learn from it, but don't depend on it."
Pascual married her high school sweetheart. Family was the catalyst for her move to Alaska, as her husband wanted to be closer to his family.
"I was pretty idealistic about serving my own country (as an educator), but then it's like oh family came first now..." Pascual said. "So I moved up here and we lived in Girdwood for the longest time. It's really fun there. I love it, I love the drive."
Girdwood is where Pascual would start raising her own child while working at Alyeska Resort as a baker.
"I did pretty good," she remembered. "I guess... I don't have any experience in the kitchen. Eventually I said I started to love this. And that's when I said I have to go back to my passion. My passion is teaching. So I worked on getting my certificate and I did, and now I'm honored to be part of the Anchorage School District."
Pascual's students say her lessons are relatable and appreciate the variety of problem solving techniques she offers. Understanding the importance of her role as teacher, she delivers life lessons as well. Again, drawing from her own experience, Pascual allows her students to correct their mistakes.
"I was pretty frustrated, I got 99 (out of) 100 on my test," she explained, referencing her days as a student. "I realized my only error was I forgot to put the negative sign (on an answer). But the process of realizing my error made me learn from my mistake and I was more careful (moving forward). But then I think it's the realization that if my students have mistakes... I would allow them to redo (the problems) so at least they learn from it. They go through their errors and say, "oh I didn't do this right. Why?" Then they teach themselves."
With a global perspective and a passion for mathematics, Agripina Pascual, or Ms. Grapes, is Head of the Class and spreading the right message.
"When you leave school what I want you to remember from me... if I just work hard, if I just persevere, if I just work well with others, if I just honor authority and respect authority... I would do just fine. School is a training ground."
If you'd like to nominate a local educator for KTVA's Head of the Class, please CLICK HERE.