Outstanding Instructor of the Month – February 2024

Outstanding Instructor of the Month – February 2024


Our Employee of the Month is Chrystina Balderas!


Chrystina Balderas has been a leader at Monterey Highlands Elementary since day one. She goes above and beyond each day for all of the students. Recently she was promoted to assistant site director and has seamlessly moved into the role. Chrystina has developed a wonderful relationship with students, parents, school staff and coworkers. She approaches each day with a positive attitude, and you will always find her with a welcoming smile on her face.


Chrystina, thank you for being such an outstanding employee and teacher.

To show our appreciation for your dedication and hard work – please check your email this week for a special gift from us.


Check out our interview with Chrystina below:


  1.   Who are you, where do you come from, where are you going?  

My name is Chrystina Balderas, and I am from Los Angeles, CA. From a young age, I always knew my career would be in teaching. I have been teaching for about 7 years, and it will continue to be my future. Tk-Kinder is where my heart is for life!  


  1.   How long have you been teaching with Apollo? 

I have been teaching with Apollo for 7 months (almost 1 whole school year!)


  1.   What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started teaching?

Patience. I am firm believer that little humans just need the right teacher to feel comfortable with, and they will do amazing things. So many of my students have opened up, and expressed their love for art, science, sports, singing, dancing etc. even the ones who pretend to hate it at first.


  1.   How do you motivate your students to succeed? 

I talk to my students with love, care, and excitement! Learning how to read and write can be exciting, so I try to make it just that. I try to teach with laughter, music, and enthusiasm. Miss Chrystina’s class is not a boring class!


  1.   If you could have any superpower, what would it be? 

If I could choose any superpower, it would be “Teleportation”. I’ve always loved talking to my students about the pyramids in Egypt, because they are just so fascinating. It would be awesome to teleport to the pyramid of Giza by sunrise, then off to tell my students all about it by the afternoon, then off to Rome for dinner by sunset!


  1.   What is your most memorable memory from your time as an Apollo instructor?

It would have to be from one of my kindergartners. He really used to dread doing his journal and math, until I found out his love for Sonic and Disneyland. I now incorporate both. You can now catch this student putting up 10 fingers, then putting down 3, while saying “If I went to Disneyland and got 10 candies, I eat 3, I have 7 left” he now knows what 10-3 is in a heartbeat!


  1.   If you could retire tomorrow and never have to worry about money again, what would you do with your time? 

I would travel the world. . . And teach. I would love to teach kindergartners in Japan, Russia, Europe, and Mexico. 


  1.   What’s your go-to technique for dealing with ‘handful students’? 

My style has always been calm, peaceful, and respectful with a splash of stern. I always tell myself, “If someone had my child in their care, how would I want he/she to handle them?” and that’s exactly what I do. (Going to college and earning a few degrees helps, too!! Haha)


  1.   What is an unusual place you have been to? 

Oh man, this one’s easy!  I found the Bronx, in New York city to be a very unusual place. I am a west coast California girl- so of course we do everything differently. However, last spring I was on the subway in the Bronx, and I witnessed 3 men dancing with what seemed like dancing trained RATS. It was the most unusual yet funniest story I have to date. 


  1. Do you have a talent that not many people know about? 

I know how to make wine, although I have never had a single glass or tasted any wine in my life!


  1. What’s your #1 teaching tip?

My #1 teaching tip would be to not stress over things we cannot control, because there is no such thing as a “perfect” teacher. As long as you get up each day, and treat every child with kindness, patience, and love, it’s enough to change a child’s life. 


  1. What’s your favorite classroom Attention Getter? 

Simon says! Works like a charm, every single time. When it gets noisy, I will say “Simon says- if you can hear me, put both hands on your head” someone always does, then the rest of the class follows. I will trick them without saying “Simon says” and we all laugh together, because “Simon” did not say. Then I tell my students the message I’m trying to get across. Ex: Start putting away the Lego’s and get backpacks ready. 


  1. What is something interesting that you’re involved in, outside of Apollo After School? 

My partner owns an auto body shop in South Central, Los Angeles. When I’m not teaching, I am there. It is in a rougher neighborhood, with a lot of homeless, so we have a few partnerships with local businesses nearby, to give back to the community, whatever and whenever we can. Food, personal hygiene items, clothes etc. 


  1. How do you spend your summer breaks? 

 I usually join a summer program for the little ones. I can’t be away from teaching for too long! Other than that, I am usually flying to see my family that live in different states. I love to travel! I hope to see this whole world, one day! 


  1. Star Wars, Star Trek, or they’re both lame? 

Both= Very lame (Do not come for me Star Wars / trek lovers) I have yet to see one movie, or show of either or 😅. I KNOW.


  1. What do you like most about working with Apollo? 

The students, their parents, and the staff. We have such an amazing group around us, and I’m so glad to be part of Apollo at Monterey Highlands. I can honestly say these are some of the BEST parents I’ve ever had at any school, and I really have to thank them for being so kind, and giving me the honor of teaching their child every single day.


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