Meet Angel Magana, 19, who is in a Denver teacher-residency program that allows him to work as a paid paraprofessional while working toward his teaching degree.

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By all accounts, Angel Magana is a natural-born teacher. Growing up, he spent hours teaching his two younger siblings what he learned in school.

But in northeast Denver, every single one of his teachers in elementary and middle school was a white woman. The only adults who looked like him were the ones serving lunch in the cafeteria or emptying the trash cans in the hallway.

Magana, a Mexican-American 19-year-old, knows he doesn’t look like the average teacher. In fact, only 9 percent of public school teachers are Hispanic, and about 2 percent are Hispanic men—despite the fact that the Hispanic student population is the fastest growing in the country, making up about a quarter of K-12 students.

As a student, Magana said, “I thought it was very odd that the students were part of one culture, and they were getting all of their education, which they would be using for the rest of their life, from someone who, on some occasions, couldn’t relate.”

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