Iliana Alvarez is a Spanish teacher at Smedley Elementary, a Mastery Charter School. Her language instruction is centered on celebrating her students' identity and promoting tolerance through exposure to others' cultures and practices. She devotes her time to her students outside the school day by serving as the adviser for student government and the liaison for "My Daughter's Kitchen," a cooking club partnership with the Philadelphia Inquirer. Iliana serves the Frankford community where her school is located in advocating for Spanish-speaking families by providing translation support and access to Spanish resources. Previously, Iliana facilitated a peer learning community within her school and acted as the Spanish collaboration lead for her charter network.
Originally from Salinas, California, Iliana is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants. She grew up watching her parents work long hours in the strawberry fields to provide her family a life they never had in Mexico. Iliana's parents raised her to highly value education, which inspired her to become the first person in her family to graduate from college. She earned a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. At UCLA, Iliana completed extensive studies in education and public policy to expand her understanding of the issues faced in black and brown communities. Her pursuit of educational equity brought her to Philadelphia as a 2013 Teach for America Corps Member. She received her MSEd in Urban Education at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. Iliana will continue to fight alongside black and brown communities to ensure that all students have teachers equipped to understand trauma related and other mental health needs specific to the community.
Iliana is a proud sister of Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Incorporated. She has a reputation for being the "pickiest foodie," which makes her a reliable source of restaurant recommendations for all her friends. In her free time, when she isn't exploring the local taco scene or hitting the gym, Iliana is researching what country she will visit next in her quest to explore 30 countries before her 30th birthday.