Mrs. Alvarez: Teacher by Day, Poet by Night

Mrs.+Celia+Alvarez+returns+to+the+school+as+an+English+teacher+and+a++published+poet.

Lucia Moglia

Mrs. Celia Alvarez returns to the school as an English teacher and a published poet.

By Lucia Moglia, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy

In 2018, Mrs. Celia Alvarez’ youngest daughter was born, segueing her into a four year break from teaching. This year, her daughter begins kindergarten, and Mrs. Alvarez returns to school as the newest addition to the English department.

“I’m excited to be back in the Lourdes environment,” Mrs. Alvarez said. “You don’t always have this wonderful place where you feel like you are working with friends.”

Mrs. Alvarez has taught at several places in different capacities, for example as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University in Miami, but something about teaching high school draws her in.

“The freshmen I taught before were so optimistic, so determined with this hopeful attitude,” she said. “This year I look forward to working with the seniors because they are closer to the age I have been teaching my whole life and will be a new challenge.”

Although Mrs. Alvarez is excited about the opportunity of getting to know her classes, few of her students might know about her secret life. Mrs. Alvarez’ titles include professor, teacher, mother, wife, friend…but also published poet.

“Mrs. Alvarez is a woman of this time,” English teacher Mrs. González said. “She’s married, and has two children, but in spite of that she has published excellent poetry collections on the side of her career.”

Her four poetry collections explore varying aspects of the human experience told through her eyes. The first two, Shapeshifting and The Stones, are coming of age stories that explore Mrs. Alvarez’ identity as a Cuban-American and her upbringing in Miami. The third, Multiverses, deals with loss and grief.

“Multiverses is my most cohesive collection,” Mrs. Alvarez said. “I’m proud of it because of the unique way I put it together and was able to express my thoughts and feelings into words.”

Although Mrs. Alvarez takes much inspiration from her life when it comes to writing, her most recent collection, Bodies & Words, draws from her observations and perception of other people, including strangers.

“I drew from the people around me,” Mrs. Alvarez said. “For example, a couple I met at church who inspired some of the poems.”

When inspiration does strike though, Mrs. Alvarez must find the balance between being a teacher, mother, and poet to find the time to write.

“If you are a full time writer, the best way to go about it is writing everyday,” she said. “But I have to teach, and be a mother, and be a wife on top of that. So my writing often happens in manic episodes.”

Multiverses is a testament to that sporadic writing process. The 80 page collection took only two weeks to write. An unceasing cycle of “writing, writing, writing,” is how Mrs. Alvarez described that period of her life.

Mrs. Alvarez is an example of how we learn by doing. What she teaches about poetry is often what she loves about it and what drives her to write her own. She looks forward to getting her students excited about a form of expression that is so close to her heart.

“I’m really excited to have Mrs. Alvarez this year,” senior Nicole El harati said. “I can already tell she is so knowledgeable and passionate about English.”

Mrs. Alvarez is teaching English IV L3 and Honors this year. Although she will be busier than usual, writing still hold a special spot in her schedule.

This story was originally published on The Grotto on September 22, 2022.