Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Ricardo Medina

2 min read
Ricardo Medina

Years teaching, where taught?

In my two decades as an educator, I have had the opportunity to teach at all levels of education including Vista Square Elementary, Mueller Charter School, Chula Vista Learning Community Charter High School, and San Diego State University.  I have enjoyed working within numerous roles as a classroom teacher, dean of students, resource teacher, restorative justice facilitator, after school program specialist, and as a lecturer.

What led you to teaching?

I grew up embracing social action and giving back to the community.  I went into teaching for this reason; I wanted to have a positive impact on the next generation/s and in using the words of Paulo Freire, I wanted to “create new tomorrows”

What led you to USD?

I was born and raised in San Diego and I did my undergrad here.  Initially what led me back to USD was SOLES and their work with social justice and critical inquiry in education.  An additional reason for why I am here is my advocacy work. I had an instrumental mentor, Michael Austin (EOP), while I was completing my undergrad.  I want to create a space to support students and challenge their thinking like he provided.

What are your goals/motivation in working with both pre-service and in-service teachers?

It is my passion and part of my sacred purpose to co-create transformative models of education, and it is my hope to invite pre-service and in-service teachers into this critical dialogue and actualization.  Through ideological clarity, community building, and the will to act we have the capacity to engage in some extremely powerful work!

Words of advice or support for current teachers?

At the end of the day, teaching is all about relationships.  As it has been said, “students don’t care what you know until they know that you care”

5 books every teacher should read?

I’m not sure about every teacher, but some of my favorites are:

  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
  • The Courage to Teach:  Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life by Parker Palmer
  • Subtractive Schooling Angela Valenzuela
  • Belonging: A Culture of Place by bell hooks
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

What community service do you do? What groups outside of USD do you work with?

The bulk of my work in the community is with an organization called Izcalli and Circulo de Hombres. Both work to transform the lives of Chicana/o and Indigenous communities by promoting cultural consciousness through the arts, education, and community dialogue.  Some of my additional community work includes: Board Member – Human Relations Commission with the City of Chula Vista, Board Member for Brazilian Institute for Arts and Culture, and the National Compadres Network. I also find time to support multiple organizations committed to caring for Mother Earth.


Ricardo Medina, PhD, is a Professor of Practice with the Department for Learning and Teaching. Prior to coming to USD, he was a lecturer with the Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education at San Diego State University where he taught courses in foundations of democratic schooling, multicultural education, and action research. He is a former elementary, middle, and high school teacher, dean of students, and restorative practices facilitator. He holds a PhD in education from Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State University.


PhD San Diego State University

MA San Diego State University

BA University of San Diego

Scholarly Passions

  • Sacred Purpose
  • Purpose in Life (Positive Youth Development)
  • Indigenous Education & Pedagogy
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Youth Participatory Action Research
  • Educator Ideological Clarity

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