Angelica Gomez comes from a family with deep Upper West Side and Bloomingdale connections. During her childhood, the area was full of grandparents, uncles and cousins. Her uncle Christian Calderon attended, as did her younger brother Isaiah. Angelica started Bloomingdale in 1998 and her teachers at the W 107th Street site were Traci Chen and Angie Ramos. Traci remembered her this way, “ Angelica was quiet, friendly, always smiling and interested in what was going on around her.” It can be said that this is true today!
After Bloomingdale, Angelica went to P.S. 75, the Emily Dickinson School and then to Booker T. Washington Middle School, just across the street from our site on Columbus Avenue. She loved Booker T. Right about this time, her parents decided to move the family to New Jersey. Angelica decided otherwise. Leave her school ? Leave her friends and her neighborhood ? Nothing doing. Fortunately, her parents were still working in the city, and her family in the neighborhood helped out. She finished middle school and went to high school in Garfield, NJ, and then on to Montclair State College, also in NJ. It may have looked as though Angelica had transitioned to New Jersey but her heart was still on the Upper West Side. While in college, she started working as a paraprofessional at PS 75, and she planned her coursework around being available for the job.
As she was finishing her undergraduate degree, her Upper West Side connections brought her back to the city full time. She became a Teaching Fellow, a program that brings new teachers into the profession. She started in the summer of 2017, shadowing a teacher at a District 75 school in Harlem, and taking classes in the afternoons into the evening. That fall she was hired to work in a 5th grade classroom at PS 75. Her former 4th grade teacher, Alida Grafal, now an assistant principal at PS 75, knew she would be a great fit. She had just started when a dual language kindergarten class lost two teachers in quick succession and the school asked Angelica if she would give K a try. She stepped in and made it a success. Two children in her class had just come from Bloomingdale, and over the years other Bloomingdale children have been in her classes. She is now a Special Education teacher, part of a teaching team in a dual language 5th grade ICT (integrated co-teaching) classroom, where students with learning challenges are integrated into the classroom. She has her masters degree from Pace University and has completed her bilingual extension. She loves Grade 5 but thinks she would also like to experience teaching middle school.
The pandemic and Angelica
In her 3rd year of teaching, the pandemic changed everything. Her school was closed on March 13, 2020 and the teachers were asked to come in the next week to prepare lessons for the anticipated two week shutdown. PS 75 was already supplied with laptop computers but the teachers had to create and print the lessons and communicate with families. Angelica herself became sick but was never tested, like so many at the time. After Spring Break, it was clear that the students and teachers would not be coming back that school year. She met with her students on Google Meet every day. The next fall, before vaccines were available, the students had the option of coming in and working on their computers on different days or working remotely. Anglica was hybrid teaching and that continued until the spring, when both groups started to come into the classroom. The last school year, 2021-2022, students were in full attendance and masks became optional in March. As you can see in the photos of Angelica with her 5th graders, she brings a deep connection to her work with students. Angelica is a hometown hero: she is faithful to her roots on the Upper West Side and is contributing her passion for learning to each of her students. She is an inspiration, and we are proud her learning journey began with us.