As a first-generation American of Samoan and Nigerian descent, Estella recognizes how privileged she is to hold space among communities of international educators and across academia. As such, Estella believes it is her duty to advocate for all those who look like her, stand as an ally for others in the margins, and forge clear paths for young people where there once were none.
Born and raised in South Los Angeles, she serves in her hometown as a secondary theatre teacher. Estella is heavily engaged within her union at the local, state, and national level. She is the current SoCal regional director of the National Education Association's (NEA) Asian & Pacific Islander Caucus (APIC) and was recently appointed to serve as chair of California Teacher Association's (CTA) Racial Equity Steering Committee as well as the Racial & Social Justice Advisory Committee. Estella also represents her local union chapter as an elected delegate to the CTA state council and governing body.
Mrs. Church holds a B.A. in Africana Studies with an emphasis on Urban Education. She has more than a decade of experience in theatrical arts as a stage manager, lighting designer, and more. Estella earned a Master's Degree in Language Arts and Literacy with a minor in Secondary Education as well as several credentials including one in Secondary Teaching and Career Technical Education: Arts, Media, and Entertainment.
In both her undergraduate and graduate studies, her research areas spanned hip hop education, literacy, motivation among youth, arts education, and service learning. Prior to serving in the classroom full time, Mrs. Church was a counselor for GearUp Project Steps within Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Her career in education nears two decades with at least 7 of those years in the classroom delivering direct instruction.
In 2017, Estella Owoimaha-Church was named a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, now hailed as the Nobel for educators. In 2018, CTA presented her with the Human Rights & Equity Award for Peace & Justice for international service on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
When her students’ theatre program was stripped from them, she launched Education Ensemble - a company aimed at providing safe spaces for youth to devise works of art as a form of direct-action. She also co-created EN-ACT, an online network of global educators, leaders, and teaching artists who collaborate to curate best practices in arts integration, social emotional learning, and human rights education.
Though in the classroom full time, Estella remains active with several global organizations to bring equitable learning spaces to scholars everywhere. Through the arts and a racial justice, Estella leads trainings, develops curriculum, and consults for unions, foundations, and other non-governmental organizations. Below are some of the most notable organizations Estella collaborates with:
In addition, she has authored contributions and articles including:
Mrs. Church works to ensure marginalized youth everywhere have access to quality education with a focus on the arts and social justice. She believes the arts are a transformative tool capable of healing communities and cultivating global citizens. She inspires scholar-artist to use their talents as a means of serving their communities. Estella has been invited to speak around the world on pressing education matters, including the Vatican, Dubai, Brussels, and across the United States. She faced Betsy DeVos when students' civil rights were under attack, helped launch several school across Africa, and continues to develop local initiatives. Estella's potential impact on the lives of youth -particularly, youth of color - is only outmatched by her commitment to serve.