As a high school Spanish teacher during the day and Advocacy Project coordinator after hours and on the weekends, I am a member of my Baltimore community and my Baltimore City College High School family, a school community with a proud strength in heritage and tradition. I am a teacher who strives to connect with my students and provide them with every opportunity at success that I lacked as a student and young adult. My passion is in building my student’s aptitude in the second most commonly spoken language in the world, not only through rigorous classroom instruction, but also through practical application of skills in our local community and on a global level. With a current Hispanic population of 17% in the United States and a projected population of 29% by the year 2050, I passionately believe that my students must become bilingual students that can apply their speaking and listening skills in Spanish for future success and access in a global workforce.
Growing up in a low-income community in Salem, Oregon and attending three Title I public schools through my elementary, middle school and high school education, I was reminded daily of the difference in the quality of education that was offered in other schools in my community and state. With few Advanced Placement courses offered at my public high school, there were not many opportunities offered for advancement for a motivated student. I was a student who always looked for a challenge, but was very rarely offered the chance to further my education through rigorous course offerings. Although I didn’t find the challenge I sought my public school education, I sought to challenge myself in other ways outside of school through extracurricular activities such as orchestra, swimming, cross country, and the study of a foreign language.
One of my biggest dreams as a student was to become a bilingual citizen, both for my personal sense of fulfillment and sense of duty to community. As a young child, inspired by Greek mythology, I was interested in learning Greek, but growing up in the Willamette Valley, quickly saw the prevalence of Spanish-speakers in my community and realized the urgency for our community to have aptitude in the Spanish language. Attending a middle school in Salem with a 51% Hispanic population, I was inspired and hungry for the hard language skills of speaking and listening, but was not supported in this dream, with Spanish teachers who taught in a traditional textbook method; these methods primarily focused on the soft skills of writing and reading. Through teachers that provided access at the University of Oregon, I was able to take a teaching fellowship in Madrid, Spain, and through teaching in an underserved community in Legánes, a suburb of Madrid, I was able to acquire the Spanish language in a way that I was unable to achieve in the classroom in Oregon.
I have made it my mission to provide my students with the best possible preparation for Baltimore’s influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants. With Baltimore’s current 6.7% Hispanic population growing at a steady rate due to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake’s political culture of welcoming immigrant policies, my students must be prepared to interact through speaking and listening with native speakers, not only through their language skills, but in their cultural awareness and understanding of Latino culture. With this in mind, through two years of intent research and reflection I have adopted and trained over 50 hours professionally in the TPRS/CI method as well as developing and leading the Advocacy Project at Baltimore City College High School to prepare my students with the best possible preparation for today’s global workforce.
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