Marlene Reyes


Marlene Reyes is a junior at Arlington Tech, a Governor's STEM academy program in Arlington, Virginia. She serves as a vice president of the Arlington County NAACP youth council and as a member of the Arlington Career Center (ACC) equity action team. Additionally, she's a co-founder of the annual ACC Cultural Night. Marlene facilitates weekly conversations and community circles related to various topics, including race, language, gender, religion, social justice, belonging, identity, bias and inclusion. She believes that students are the only ones who can truly share how their identities, biases and differences affect them in the classroom. Marlene also believes that students are best positioned to share recommendations and ideas about what teachers can do to be more mindful and inclusive. She designed and facilitated a series of professional development sessions on implicit bias and identity for more than 200 teachers, administrators and staff. Marlene recruited more than 30 students to present and participate in small-group discussions during the training. She provided tools and activities for teachers to learn and practice promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within the classroom. These professional development sessions have helped advance racial equity while promoting respect and understanding. The most challenging part of the work for Marlene has been adults who don't believe students understand DEI and don't want it to be part of teacher professional development sessions. With the support of school administrators, Marlene has used her voice and experience with racial equity to help create a more inclusive school environment.