Title: Elementary Teacher
Company: Cherryland Elementary School
Location: Alameda, California, United States
Jacqueline Lafitte, 5th grade teacher at Cherryland Elementary School, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for her achievements and exceptional leadership. Through STEAM project-based learning, she is dedicated to inspiring students to solve real world, tangible problems, while developing social emotional health.
With an artisan’s heart and years of manufacturing that developed a passion for clothing design, she earned an Associate of Arts from Miss Wade’s Fashion and Merchandising College in Dallas, Texas, after which she became a product manager for a semi-precious stone accessories designer. In 1989, Ms. Lafitte achieved a Bachelor of Arts and Business as Related Fields, from Holy Names University in Oakland, California. Armed with fashion design expertise, she completed her senior project, creating costumes for the Mills College Theater.
Three years later, Ms. Lafitte answered a call to teach, starting with St. Elizabeth Diocese of Oakland for 5 years, then in 1996, moving to Hayward Unified School District at Cherryland Elementary. For more than 20 years, she has instructed students using Integrated Learning, Tribes, and now steeped with an artistic foundation in problem solving, she advocates STEAM project-based learning, incorporating science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.
Ms. Lafitte is currently collaborating with the nonprofit, STEM4REAL, to create an engaging curriculum which develops student empathy for different people groups, while growing awareness about the extensive need for potable water, both locally and across the globe. She emphasizes the need for water conservation and water system sustainability in her lesson plans, utilizing a multiplicity of diverse resources. Combining her passion, purpose and calling, she leads her students beyond the classroom, challenging them to be culturally aware and to do what works to make a difference both today and in the future.
Ms. Lafitte attributes her success to God‘s divine design. If she gets stuck in any situation, she prays. She is a volunteer with the nonprofit, Sayap Africa, whose mission includes empowering communities by building clean water wells. She is currently working on a project to provide clean water for 2000 students at Eseka High School in Cameroon. In addition, she is partnering to develop a pilot for Sayap Africa that would ensure an educational environment fostering inquiry, investigation, storytelling, and discovery. She is inspiring a new generation to dream of possibilities for a brighter future, both in the U.S. and in Africa.
Ms. Lafitte has be been selected by the Board of Directors of California Association of Science Educators (CASE) recipient of the 2022 CASE Science Teacher Award, Upper Elementary. This is the first award presented to elementary science. Dr. Leena Bakshi from STEM4REAL nominated Ms. Lafitte in recognition of the Spring 2022 lesson study curriculum they created called, Developing Empathy. Her students in Cherryland Elementary created accordion books that depicts the warmth of empathy while learning the importance of access to potable clean water, especially at Eseka High School in Cameroon, Africa: Ms. Lafitte is grateful to her students and STEM4REAL for the hard work they put into the project. She is hopeful that the Eseka High School gets a clean water well in 2022.
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