The Houston Area Association of Bilingual Education (HAABE) announced its selections for the 2015 Bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) Teachers of the Year on May 9 at its annual banquet, and the Houston Independent School District swept one entire category by winning ESL Teacher of the Year distinctions at both the elementary and secondary levels.
Osias Mendoza, who teaches at Love Elementary School, was honored as the HAABE Elementary ESL Teacher of the Year. He knows the struggle of learning in a second language and navigating a new culture first-hand, because he came to Houston from the Philippines as a young man.
Tanya Thompson, who teaches at The Rice School, was honored at the HAABE Secondary ESL Teacher of the Year. She has taught for 31 years, most of which have been in the area of ESL, and she is known for her commitment to creating a classroom in which all students are valued and challenged.
“These awards demonstrate the high quality of HISD’s teachers and the success of its bilingual/ESL programming,” said Assistant Superintendent of Multilingual Programs Gracie Guerrero. “I am very proud of both of them.”
HISD is expanding its successful dual language program to 21 more campuses in 2015–2016, launching thousands of additional pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students on the road to learning a second language. Currently, 31 HISD schools offer a Spanish dual language program.
Starting in August, kindergarten students — and pre-kindergarten students, at some schools — will be learning in both English and Spanish. One grade will be added to the program each year until it reaches school-wide.
When Houston ISD doubled its dual language programs to include 28 schools this August, that was just the beginning of district’s commitment to making sure students on those campuses become bilingual and biliterate.
Representatives of HISD’s Multilingual Programs Department have visited each school to evaluate instructional practices and to offer support for principals and teachers to embed language instruction into strong academic content. Native Spanish-speakers learn English, and English speakers gain a second language through immersion. Continue reading →
For many years, the second most-commonly spoken language among HISD students who were learning English (after Spanish) was Vietnamese.
But a recent influx of families from the Middle East has resulted in a surge of youngsters whose first language is Arabic—and that shift has resulted in a number of changes in HISD.
In December of 2012, for instance, the district hired its first-ever Arabic translator, Assim Omran, to provide interpretative assistance during parent-teacher conferences, community events, and Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings. It also began translating documents such as the Code of Student Conduct, HISD ReCONNECT (formerly “Welcome to HISD” or “Back-to-School”), and STAAR communications into Arabic.
What do a national judo champion and a member of an up-and-coming European band have in common? They’re both bilingual teachers in HISD!
The district has been hiring highly qualified bilingual teachers from Spain to fill critical shortage areas in HISD through a partnership with that country’s Ministry of Education since 1997—and Blanco “Miguel” Lopez (Law ES) and Juan Luis Alonso-Benito (Coop ES) are two of them. Continue reading →
Sharon Samuel discusses life cycles with her second graders.
When Sharon Samuel first moved to the United States as a nine-year-old, she was terrified that her limited English skills would prevent her from making friends and succeeding in school. But a positive experience with her very first teacher here not only helped to quell her anxieties about fitting in but also set the stage for her own career in education.
“Mrs. Barrientos is the reason why I became a bilingual teacher,” said Samuel, who was named the Bilingual Teacher of the Year for 2014 by the Houston Area Association for Bilingual Educators. “She consistently went out of her way to make me feel comfortable, not only as a student in her classroom, but also as a young girl living in the U.S. for the first time.”
A new online application process and computer-generated lottery have been completed and nearly 50,000 notifications of the Houston Independent School District magnet programs including Vanguard placements for 2014-2015 will be sent to families by email (after 5 p.m.) and postal service Friday.
“This award acknowledges your work as an exceptionally skilled and dedicated teacher in a bilingual program,” read the notification letter from NABE. “Your application contained outstanding testimonials and descriptions of your professional role as a bilingual teacher.”
Galán was selected for her ability to inspire students in two languages and her dedicated service to the school and its surrounding community.