Who WE Are – Justine Espiritu

Justine Espiritu is a new hire with Colonial.  In October of 2020, she began teaching music at Gunning Bedford Middle School. Starting a new position during a pandemic is challenging for everyone; but as the nation celebrates Asian American Heritage Month in May, Espiritu reflects on an even harder challenge–the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.  At age 16, Espiritu remembers being called hurtful names, but a recent incident was even more painful for her. “ At the start of the pandemic I took my daughter to Glasgow Park before all of the playgrounds were shut down and she was happily waving and saying ‘hello’ to children who were also playing close by.  As she was doing this, a woman grabbed her young son and told her to ‘get away from that chink’ and loudly said that they ‘weren’t trying to get the virus from them’.  My daughter is half Filipino (from my side) and half Taiwanese (from my husband’s side). It broke my heart that someone could say this to anyone – let alone a child,” she says.

Today Espiritu would rather focus on Colonial’s Power of WE mantra which to her means “working together to educate, uplift and support our families and students”. She also looks forward to next school year which hopefully will include traditional concerts and musicals.  In the meantime, she is happy to work in a district that is making an effort to bring about equity and goes as far as to include students in conversations around racial sensitivity and inclusion.   “I am thrilled to join the Colonial Family!” she says.