As a Stanford sophomore passionate about teaching, Julia Quintero founded the Stanford Pre-Education Society (SPREES), where like-minded undergraduates find camaraderie, focused advising and service opportunities.
“By the time I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to be a teacher,” Quintero said. “My mom was always supportive. At first my dad was concerned about whether I’d be challenged enough to stick with it. Now, he’s totally on board. That’s part of what SPREES is there for: You have other people who are in the same boat as you.”
The society was born in one of the Education and Society Theme (EAST) House seminars that Quintero took repeatedly as an undergrad majoring in history and human biology.
“What I loved about the EAST House seminar is that it’s a low-stakes, easy-access way to stay involved in issues with education, and with subfields of education you may not have been exposed to. I signed up at least six times.
“I was bicycling to EAST House one day and was thinking about the low status teachers have in this society, how hard it was to meet others who felt as I did and what could be done about it.
“I turned to Ira Lit, director of STEP Elementary, and Rachel Lotan, director emerita of STEP Secondary, for advice in founding SPREES, and they became mentors to me. Ira helped me realize that I belonged in the elementary classroom.
“And so I went another round with my dad about whether teaching elementary school would challenge me sufficiently compared with teaching high school. I told him, ‘This is actually really intellectually engaging work, Dad. I can see myself doing this for a very long time.’”
Image: Julia and her brother rally for Stanford at the 2013 Rose Bowl.