August Dual Language Teacher of the Month: Marilu Segura!
Marilu Segura was an easy choice for the August Dual Language Teacher of the Month, simply because of the amount of people whose life she has touched. We received copious emails regarding nominating her, and there’s no doubt as to how much she deserves this award. She began her teaching career in the 2008-2009 school year as a Teaching Assistant for ENL Middle School students and has taught high school Spanish as well. In 2016 she was offered the opportunity to teach as an elementary bilingual teacher in the dual language program at Geneva City School District, and she has been there ever since. She currently teaches first grade in a 50/50 Spanish/English Program.
My biggest influence has always been my family. Being the daughter of immigrants and an immigrant myself, makes me value education. I wanted to become an educator to help, influence and motivate children to work hard for their dreams.
Ms. Segura currently works at a local school within her community and that is a personal preference. She has been part of this community since she was a child; she graduated from high school and college there and she felt that by working within her community, she would be able to give back to it. She began working as a part -time, long-term substitute teacher and was later offered a full-time position which she accepted and has been there since. It is evident that community is at the forefront of Ms. Segura’s work.
My favorite part of being a teacher has always been being with students. I enjoy interacting with students and listening to their thoughts and ideas or experiences. I love making connections with my students and developing relationships that encourage mutual respect and acceptance of differences.
Ms. Segura attends conferences in the field, such as La Cosecha and NABE, and has studied research around bilingual education. From this research, she has brought into her classroom ideas and strategies to implement with her students to support and maximize their learning. Whether it is ideas to implement during whole group instruction, in small groups or individually, she has been able to implement research-based strategies as well as confirmed how her own teaching aligns with research-based strategies.
I think something that makes my classroom stand out is the constant use of music, singing and chanting that is incorporated into our learning in Spanish. For teaching in general and throughout the day we use music, singing and chanting as ways for students to practice and interact with each other using Spanish and listening/watching Spanish interactions for modeling and structuring their own ideas.
Ms. Segura constantly encourages her students to attend and participate in events outside of school where they can experience more Spanish and encounter more Spanish speakers in their community. In the past, Ms. Segura and her co-teachers would hold Cultural Saturdays at their school to invite and encourage their students and their families to learn and appreciate more of the Spanish speaking culture. This included inviting Spanish speakers from the community to present and share with the students as well as cooking cultural food.
Biliteracy to me means going beyond reading and writing in two languages. Being biliterate is not only being able to recognize the differences that exist between the two languages and being able to use and manipulate both languages in a logical and proficient manner. I also believe that a person cannot be proficient in another language without experiencing the culture and understanding people from diverse backgrounds.
Ms. Segura has helped her students to understand the value of biliteracy by always using herself as an example. She is a native Spanish speaker who was born in Mexico. She came to the US at age 8 and she likes to share with her students her story and her knowledge of her own culture and traditions as she feels appropriate. She encourages her students to learn and visit other countries so that they can be more appreciative about other people.
I see my students gaining the confidence and appreciation they need of themselves, for who they are, but also becoming more open-minded and respectful of others regardless of their background, color, culture, etc. I see my students promoting diversity, removing language barriers and teaching others how we can all get along regardless of our differences. I hope to teach my students to appreciate themselves for who they are, I hope to teach my students to be kind to others, to treat people with respect and to celebrate differences without judging. I hope to teach my students much more than just learning to read and write in two languages. I hope that my students will see the value in learning and becoming functional, productive members of our community.