Monique Castro named latest winner of recognition series; profiled by NPR Senior Education Editor Steve Drummond

WASHINGTON, DC - January 1, 2018

When one of her students at Rocketship Fuerza Community Preparatory School in San Jose, California, wasn’t participating in class, first-year teacher Monique Castro immediately stepped in to help, because this was a warning sign she knew all too well.

After feeling that she fell short each school year, the message that school just wasn’t for Castro had sunk in by the end of her senior year. With low hopes of getting accepted into college, Castro reluctantly applied and was accepted into University of California, Santa Cruz, where her passion for teaching and being in the classroom was ignited.

This month, Castro’s determination and passion for teaching is being celebrated by Honored, a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping great teachers in the classroom and inspiring a new generation of talent to pursue teaching.

In addition to a $5,000 grant, Castro had her story immortalized in a profile article by NPR Senior Education Editor Steve Drummond. In the article, Drummond highlights the story of Castro’s mission to ensure that one of her students, Caitlin, did not find herself in the same position Castro was once in.

Caitlin, age 5, was enrolled early in her schooling yet struggling to keep up and engage in conversation with the rest of the class. While the rest of Castro’s class was counting aloud to 100, Caitlin would whisper.

“She was very, very shy, really quiet…timid,” Castro recalls. “I would tell her mom, ‘I wish she’d speak up more because I know she knows it.’”

Knowing that Caitlin was in the crucial early stages of her school career, Castro worked tirelessly with Caitlin’s mother to help the young girl grow into a bright, energetic student. By the end of the school year, Caitlin ended up as one of the top-performing students in the class, with a particular affinity for math.

In light of studies showing a decline in women who participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Castro has prioritized giving girls in underserved communities the skills and the confidence to flourish in all subjects, particularly in STEM.

Castro often quotes NASA ambassador Nichelle Nichols:

“Science is not a boy’s game; it’s not a girl’s game. It’s everyone’s game. It’s about where we are and where we’re going.”

Recently, Castro’s classroom built “gumdrop towers,” where the girls developed and tested hypotheses with their efforts to construct the sturdiest and tallest possible tower of toothpicks and gumdrops. Castro also organizes STEM-focused field trips to big-time companies such as eBay and Salesforce, and through her program has helped connect elementary-aged girls with women role models in STEM.

Teachers like Monique Castro give girls the skills and confidence to be 21st-century women and face adversity head on. As Caitlin, now a third-grader, says:

“Ms. Castro taught us to grow our brains and grow up to be mathematicians.”

Read Monique’s full story at

Has a teacher changed your life? Honored wants to share your story and give your teacher some well-deserved recognition! To nominate a teacher, visit

About Honored

Honored is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping great teachers in the classroom and to inspiring a new generation of talent to pursue teaching. Each month, Honored shines a spotlight on a teacher who has changed the life of a single student. The Honoree receives a $5,000 cash award, and Honored partners with a world-class writer to tell their story. Honorees are selected from K-12 teachers of all subjects at public, private and charter schools across the country. Honored’s National Advisory Board includes luminaries such as the internationally best-selling author Michael Lewis, founder Charles Best, Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp, and FEED cofounder Lauren Bush Lauren.

For more information about Honored, visit For regular updates on Honored and our monthly Honorees, follow and like us on, and

Honored Press Contact

Chelsea O’Neal