Category Archives: Bilingual

Changing district demographics lead to hiring of Arabic translator

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.

“Right now, he’s doing lots of interpretations for families and students at Bonham ES, Revere MS, Lee HS, and Westside HS,” said Manager of Translation Services Liliana McKean. “He also translated the International Baccalaureate @home materials for Twain Elementary.” Continue reading

Hidden talents show determination, diversity of HISD’s bilingual instructors

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

2014 Bilingual Teacher of the Year now serves at the first U.S. campus she attended

Sharon Samuel discusses life cycles with her second graders at J.P. Henderson Elementary School, May 16, 2014. (Dave Einsel / Houston ISD)

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.”

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Wharton K-8 Dual Language Academy wins award for academic excellence in Spanish

Wharton K-8 Dual Language Academy has won the Embassy of Spain’s elementary award for Academic Excellence in Spanish.

“I am extraordinarily proud of the work that our faculty and staff have put into creating our outstanding dual language school,” Wharton Principal Jennifer Day said.

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Notices to go out Friday for nearly 50,000 HISD magnet applications

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.

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Scroggins ES educator named national Bilingual Teacher of the Year

Maria Elena Galán teaches fractions to her third grade class at Scroggins Elementary School, January 14, 2014.

Maria Elena Galán, a third-grade teacher at HISD’s Scroggins Elementary School, has been named the 2014 Bilingual Teacher of the Year by the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE).

“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.

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Open House to Showcase HISD’s Portfolio of School Choices

Options include magnet programs, Montessori, early colleges and Futures academies

The Houston Independent School District provides families with a vast portfolio of educational programs, and parents and students will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from many of them this weekend.

Representatives from more than 100 schools will be on hand during the HISD School Choice Open House on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Northwest Mall, 9500 Hempstead Highway.

“Our goal is to ensure parents can select the right school to adequately meet their child’s unique needs and talents,” said HISD Assistant Superintendent for School Choice Dave Wheat. “We are committed to providing all students a high-quality education that prepares them to be college-ready, regardless of which program they choose.”

Representatives from HISD’s Magnet programs, Vanguard Magnet programs, Montessori, early colleges, Futures academies and charter schools will be ready to assist parents in making the best school choice for their children. Parents will also have the opportunity to learn more about the online option to submit their applications. Applications for Magnet programs will be accepted from Nov. 4 to Dec. 20, 2013, for guaranteed consideration in the first round.

“At this event, parents will find all the resources and assistance they need to explore their options for the next school year,” Wheat said. “The representatives will be there to assist them with every step of the application.”

HISD’s school choice options are available to all children, including those who live outside HISD.

For more information about the HISD School Choice Open House, contact the Office of School Choice at 713-556-6947.

Multilingual Programs Department Hosts ‘Job Alike’ Training for Staff

Hundreds of multilingual and bilingual educators gathered on Aug. 21 at Hartman Middle School for pre-service training that provided content-specific teachers and specialists with information regarding research-based instruction, best practices, classroom resources, and technology integration.

“It’s important for these teachers get together as a community, share with one another, and have a common goal and purpose,” said Dr. Higinia Torres-Rimbau, director of Bilingual/Dual Language Education at the University of St. Thomas. She was on hand to provide HISD teachers with insight into bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism. The common goal this year is to ensure that all of HISD’s 61,000 English language learners are successful, both academically and linguistically.

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Trip to Israel Gives Principal Better Understanding of Refugees’ Struggles

Las Americas Principal Marie Moreno

Las Americas Principal Marie Moreno and Stevenson MS teacher Patricia Cooksey recently spent 10 days on a study tour to Israel and the West Bank in hopes of learning more about the region and gaining a better understanding of the struggles refugee students face.

“One-hundred percent of my students come from war-torn countries or have suffered some type of trauma in their home country,” Moreno said. “In order for me to understand exactly what they’ve gone through, I wanted to physically see it for myself. My kids are truly the lucky ones who escaped such horrible conditions.”

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Team HISD is Hiring – Early Application Deadline is March 18

HISD currently has openings for motivated teachers who are invested in making an impact on student achievement.  To attract the best candidates, we are currently accepting early applications for the 2013-2014 school year. The deadline for the early application round is March 18, 2013. We are continuing to access applications for the 2012-2013 school year.

While vacancies exist in all areas, the highest need for teachers exists in critical shortage areas including bilingual (Spanish), secondary Spanish, secondary math, secondary science and specific areas in special education.

To get started, click here and follow the directions to start your application for employment with HISD today! Candidates who apply early will have the best chance of securing contracts for the 2013-2014 school year.

For more information about a teaching career at HISD, visit the teacher recruitment page by clicking here.