Jonathan Lopez last year made a big switch from working in commercial refrigeration to teaching Dual Language Principles of Construction and HVAC 1 at the Dallas ISD North Dallas Career Institute.
After graduating from Townview School of Business in 2014, Lopez attended a trade school and got his degree in air conditioning and then started his career in the field working in commercial refrigeration and residential HVAC. While Lopez loved the day-to-day variety of his commercial refrigeration job, he saw the opportunity to teach at a career institute as a no-brainer.
“I wanted to give back to the community and I wanted to give back to the [school]district that’s given so much to me,” said Lopez.
Now Lopez is back in the classroom, this time teaching and preparing students for high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand occupations at the North Dallas Career Institute. While the start of the 2020-2021 school year has been virtual, he is excited to welcome his students to their state-of-the-art facility featuring real-world learning spaces and industry-standard equipment.
“My upbringing impacts a lot of my teaching,” he said.
Lopez growing up only spoke Spanish at home and was raised by his single mother who immigrated from Mexico.
“There were times when I was in elementary school where we didn’t have food at home, so if it weren’t for the meals Dallas ISD provided, I don’t know where we’d be right now,” Lopez said.
Lopez last year saw the need and opportunity to teach English Language Learners through hands-on courses and decided to help create the Dual Language Principles of Construction course, which launched this fall.
“We are excited because career institutes are already innovative in itself, but to introduce dual language pathways takes that innovation to the next level,” Lopez said. “I see students that have so much potential and they can reach that potential with just a little bit of that same nurturing that I received growing up. [I love] sharing my passion for the industry with students and seeing how their eyes light up [when they realize]that they can learn these skills.”
Even if students are unsure if they want to pursue a career in the field, Lopez wants them to know that these skills are for everyone.
“I tell the guys, if you don’t know how to fix stuff around the house, this is your opportunity to learn, and I tell the girls you don’t have to look to the guys to fix it for you, you can do it yourselves,” Lopez said.
Lopez is excited that his students can get technical training while in high school through a career institute.
“Every school year in career institutes, students have the opportunity to get a field related certification: you can’t put a price on that,” Lopez said.
To learn more about Dallas ISD Career Institutes, visit www.dallasisd.org/careerinstitutes.