The Educator Spotlight recognizes those who contribute to the education of local students. Educators were chosen by consulting with site PTA, student government organizations and staff. Educators were chosen for their reputations with students, staff, parents and the community.

Aileen Salmaggi discovered she wanted to become an educator in 1989. She was beginning her third year at UCLA when she took a job as a research intern with the Kindergarten and Elementary Intervention Project. She worked closely with a second grade student and says, “Little did I know that this shy, little girl would forever change my life,” she said. “It was her smile, courage, curiosity, and persistence that captured my heart and made me want to become a teacher.”

Salmaggi has since been teaching for 22 years. She spent two years in LAUSD and the next 20 at Edison. After teaching 1st through 4th grade, she is now in her second year as a literacy coach which she finds “an amazing opportunity to work with every teacher [at Edison] grades k-5.”

She feels lucky to be part of a district that continues to give her a “myriad of opportunities to grow professionally” like being a Literacy Coach. She enjoys working collaboratively with her “hard-working, talented” colleagues and seeing risk taking and success in the classroom. Her goal is “to continue researching best practices and help teachers target their instruction to meet the needs of all of their students.” She also feels we “must maintain high expectations for all students” so they can meet the challenges of college and career.

Salmaggi Speaks:

My biggest goal is to help EVERY student reach their potential by finding their strengths and persevering through their weaknesses. My hope is for students to believe in themselves and have the courage to make mistakes. Mistakes are necessary in the road to greatness and they need to realize that greatness lies within each one of them.

Words cannot express the feeling you get when you see a child’s eyes light up for the first time. That a-ha moment and sense of accomplishment is absolutely priceless. It’s those moments that make teaching the best job ever. I love getting kids excited about learning and instilling a sense of wonder and appreciation for the awesome things in their world as well as the everyday.

I’m inspired by survivors and fighters. My parents were great examples of that. They came from Cuba in 1966, leaving behind everything and everyone, not knowing what lay before them here. Through hard work and sacrifice, they made a new life for themselves and for my brother and I. Unfortunately, I lost them both to cancer but their lessons of determination and strength live on in me. John Wooden once said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” I’ve had my share of loss and hardship, but I always try to maintain “the glass is half full” attitude and somehow things turn out okay.

Santa Monica has a caring, unique, diverse community that has helped me become a better teacher and parent. One doesn’t have to look far for inspiration here.