Return to Headlines

Philippines to 27J: Two teachers' stories

Every year, 27J welcomes new teachers to the district–many are starting their careers while some come to us from other districts. This year, two new educators come to 27J via a different path and bring with them culture from thousands of miles away.  

Mr. Allan Cezar de Leon and Ms. April Hernandez both hail from the Philippines but find themselves about to start the next chapter of their career in Brighton, Colorado. Both are able to work in 27J after obtaining a J1 Visa sponsorship, which allows them to stay in Colorado for three to five years before going back to the Philippines. 


Finding these two highly qualified teachers halfway around the world is a unique way in which 27J leaders are working to fill a growing need for teachers.


Mr. de Leon - Vikan Middle School

man holding hands smiles

After a journey of more than 7,600 miles and six months of paperwork, Mr. de Leon is ready for the first day of class at Vikan Middle School, where he will teach math. Mr. de Leon previously taught math in the Tarlac Province, about two and a half hours from the capital city of Manila. 

De Leon always wanted to come to the United States to teach math and experience American culture. He found a job with 27J advertised on and immediately applied. After a thorough interview and rigorous background check, Mr. de Leon was ecstatic to learn he would be hired to come to Colorado and teach in Brighton. 

“Aside from learning mathematics, I want my students to be able to better understand the wide diversity of cultures around the world, such as my own,” says de Leon. “I believe in 27J Schools because it has a clear vision of giving quality education to students with the help of dedicated and motivated teachers.”


Ms. Hernandez - Brighton High School


April Hernandez is another new face on the 27J teaching staff. Ms. Hernandez will bring 14 years of teaching experience to her math classroom at Brighton High School. Hernandez applied to several American school districts but found particular interest in Brighton when she saw a teaching position advertised on Indeed. Most recently, Ms. Hernandez taught for several years in the small Arab state of Bahrain.  

woman stands in crowd

“I’m really excited to work in a different environment, different culture, and different system,” says Hernandez. “My goal is to impart to my students all the knowledge and skills I’ve learned in my 14 years of teaching.”

Recruiting: Creativity in the face of challenges


“We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to meet the needs of our growing district,” said Michael Clow, 27J Director of Human Resources. “This is our first year hiring two highly qualified teachers from the Philippines, and has been one of our most extraordinary measures to recruit teachers.” 


27J isn’t the only district having to get creative with its recruiting. Other metro-area districts across Denver have all needed to rethink how to attract and retain qualified teachers to meet growing demands.

However, 27J’s underfunding adds another layer to the problem. Among the surrounding Denver-metro areas, 27J is the lowest funded, at $41 per student. Compared to 27J, neighboring districts receive hundreds or thousands more per student and can offer competitive salaries for teachers. 


When 27J added the four-day school week, it was another way to entice great teachers into the district, but this measure is not the sole reason why teachers come to 27J. Most 27J teachers cite their housing location as the reason why they come to teach for us, and they see the four-day weekend as an added benefit to their work-life balance. 


Michael Clow and the leadership team at 27J are dedicated to continuing to overcome the challenge of attracting and retaining high-quality teachers, specifically in an underfunded district. “We will pursue all and every option to get great teachers in front of our students. If that means continuing to recruit teachers from other countries, then we will do it.” 


We are excited to welcome Mr. de Leon, Ms. Hernandez, and all the 175+ new teachers who have chosen 27J as their workplace, because we know our #TeachersElevateAllofUs.