Alex Castro-Wilson: High School Superstars—When Students Become the Teachers

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Alex Castro-Wilson, 4th grade teacher at Benson Hill Elementary School, Renton School District

Alex’s pathway from high school teacher academy to paraeducator to certified teacher

How did you earn your teacher credential?

I started out in community college, first at Green River, then Highline College, got my Associate’s Degree, then transferred to Central Washington University, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood Education.

How long did take you?

Seven years. My journey was a little rocky. My mom and I spent some time homeless while I was in high school. I lost three family members during  a six-month period while in college. My mom suffered heart failure at one point. I tried online school for a while, as we dealt with her recovery. It was a really tough time, but I stuck with it because I knew I wanted to 

How did you pay for school?

For the first first few years, I qualified for grants and financial aid that I didn’t have to pay back. Later on, paid for school with a combination of student loans and my income as a paraeducator.

Have you taken any steps to continue your education?

Yes! I got my ELL Endorsement and Master’s in Education at Seattle University, where I learned strategic and practical ways to to better support not only English Language Learners but all kids. I'm also pursuing a Master’s in Special Education at Washington State University.

Learn more about Alex Castro-Wilson's Why

More about Recruiting Washington Teachers

Recruiting Washington Teachers (RWT) is a Grow Your Own high school teacher academy created in 2007 that aims to diversify the educator workforce, close the opportunity gap, and diminish the teacher shortage by encouraging underserved, multicultural, and multilingual students to become educators.

The Bilingual Education Initiative (BEI), launched in 2017, works to achieve the same goals, with a focus on developing future bilingual educators. 

The goal of both programs is not only to inspire more students of color to become certified teachers, but also education leaders who make a difference in their communities.

“[RWT] gave me a sense of purpose and it made me find a reason to come to school. All this time I thought there was something wrong with me for how I struggled in school until I joined [the] teacher academy and learned how to be a better student and ho w my teachers could better support me and my unique needs and learning challenges.”

— RWT student in Recruiting Washington Teachers’ 2019-20 Annual Report.

Visit for more information about steps you can take during high school to prepare for a career in teaching.

Questions? Go to our Becoming an Educator tool to connect with an Educator Pathway Navigator who can respond to questions specific to your situation.