My whole name is Hector Hugo Vega, and I am in my 14th year of teaching at Alain LeRoy Locke High School while also serving as Vice President of AMU.
I was born in Los Angeles and my parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1970s. I grew up in North Hollywood and attended a high school of over 4,200 students. North Hollywood High was so packed with students I was under a year-round school calendar that maintained the school opened all year long, including the summer, under three different tracks. I witnessed firsthand how discriminatory policies in education can plague our public schools, noticing that “A” track had most of the AP courses, magnet programs and extracurricular activities, along with a majority of the white and Asian students that went to school under the “normal” calendar of having time off in the summer, winter, and spring. As for “B” and “C” tracks, they were mostly students of color and most of the gang issues, while also attending school in the summer with the highest degrees of heat. Had it not been for the “schools within a school” programs in my track (B), I would have drowned. I joined the Social Justice Academy and had the luck of having the same group of teachers for all my four years of high school, learning the importance of consistency and the power of a teacher’s influence over students.
After graduating from NHHS, I decided to venture out of Los Angeles and attended UC Santa Cruz where I received a B.A. in Sociology and Latin American/Latino Studies. At UCSC, I was affiliated with College 10 under the theme of “Social Justice and Community,” where I learned more about the injustices in our societies and dedicated my time to organizing with groups like MEChA to bring awareness and social change for our people. During my 3rd year at UCSC, I studied abroad for an entire year in Chile and explored the neighboring countries of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Peru. While I ventured through South America I spent time with indigenous groups and learned more about the struggle for human rights and also gained a better understanding of different cultures living in complex societies.
I returned to Los Angeles after leaving Santa Cruz with the goal of giving back to my community, so I began substitute teaching around the city, including charter schools in San Fernando Valley. Fate brought me to Locke, where I took a long-term substitute assignment teaching Chemistry and Biology with very little background but was offered the job because I was providing students with care and consistency. It was here at Locke where I found my passion for educating students, and the following year I obtained a M.A. in Teaching from USC, and then returned to Locke where I began teaching Spanish for 8 years. During this time I also served as an AMU Representative for Locke and helped organize school-site committees to strengthen teacher voice in our school.
For the last 5 years I have now been teaching US History at Locke and continue to spread my passion for social justice, not just among my students but also my colleagues who I continue to organize with to push back on draconian district policies that seek to subdue teacher’s and counselor’s voices in our schools while effecting student learning. I am a strong believer that those that work directly with students know what is best for them, and in order bring about the best results for a school is to create a teacher-led environment that prioritizes the health, safety and educational needs of our own students. I have always, and will continue, to elevate the needs of our members through our collective power under Asociación de Maestros Unidos. WE ARE AMU!