The February Dual Language Teacher of the Month is the inspiring Maria Muriel. Ms. Muriel is a second grade Science teacher at George W. Bush Elementary School in Wylie, Texas.
The nomination came from Ana Williams who said, “Ms. Muriel is an amazing teacher at Bush Elementary. She understands how all her students learn, and is able to differentiate and engage ALL students. Maria goes above and beyond her job by creating lots of projects for her students. She finds diverse ways for all students to be represented, learn Spanish, and love the program. Mrs. Muriel is loved by all her students. She also leads the second grade team with pride. The way she supports and represents her team is incredible. She definitely represents what a teacher of the month should be like."
Ms. Muriel was destined to be an educator. Both of her grandmothers were outstanding teachers, so teaching was in her genes. Her maternal grandmother taught for 20 years before retiring and her paternal grandmother retired after 38 years of teaching. Throughout their career, they were excited and happy to go to work and experience new learning opportunities with their students. Their dedication to their job and students left a great impression on her. Her paternal grandmother continued her career as a mentor to new teachers, helping them to improve their lessons and class management.
Her path to be an educator began in Puerto Rico where she worked in an Early Head Start program. She worked there for three years as she worked on completing a bachelor’s degree. Upon completion of the degree, she found her way to Texas where she found a position in a charter school in Plano. This job was a stepping stone to finding the school she now calls home, George W. Bush Elementary School. This school, with its distinct staff, welcomed her and helped her feel that she had found her place as a teacher. The camaraderie that she found there has helped her to be a better teacher.
When asked what her favorite part of being a teacher is, she responded, “Students’ success! Not only academic success, but also the social and emotional outcome. To see students’ faces when they accomplished something that they thought they could not, for sure, is my favorite part of being a teacher.”
Her classroom stands out because she creates a positive environment for her students; a place where they can learn, which can sometimes include making mistakes. The classroom is a safe zone where students can learn from their mistakes, collaborate, and support each other’s learning.
Outside of the classroom, she believes in family involvement and engagement. She knows that “when parents are involved, students are more receptive to learn everything.” She involves parents by sending home articles for the family to read together and learn about various topics. These activities serve as a bridge between the school and home and helps parents to keep up to date on what is being covered in the classroom. In addition to the articles that are sent home, families are engaged in STEM related projects that are completed at home. Parents like this because it allows them to stay connected to class content and helps them to reinforce the content at home, while spending time together.
This year the class started Proyecto Adriana. Adriana is a student that suggested that students go to other classrooms to read a story in their second language. The project has been successful for all students as it builds self-esteem for her class and gives other students an opportunity to hear stories. Proyecto Adriana gets applause from everyone. Every year is a different adventure depending on the group of students.
When asked to describe her school leadership in three words, she selected passionate, dedicated, and caring. Her colleagues and parents agree that Ms. Muriel brings these qualities to her students. She describes her students as curious, engaged, and happy. It is unanimous that this classroom is preparing future leaders.
As a dual language educator, she understands the importance of biliteracy, as she herself has walked in the shoes of her students. She shares her experiences on her journey to becoming biliterate with them and guides them as they make metalinguistic connections with the content they are learning. They know that the power of biliteracy will open doors for them. This can include economic advantages in the workplace, as well learning to love and respect diversity. She provides a nurturing space where the students are active learners whose curiosity increases every day. In her classroom, her students understand the importance of being bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural.
The future she envisions for her students is that they will leave a positive footprint as they venture out into the world as model role models and citizens. She knows that in sharing their experiences and connecting with others they will be articulate in two languages as they express their ideas and change the world to be one that embraces multiculturalism. Her hope is that “they express their ideas and opinions in their two languages with pride and saying: I am bilingual. I can speak English y también puedo hablar español. My students will be the leaders of the future.”
She is teaching them that they have the skills and power to change the world. She models that they can do this by using their voice to fight injustices and help the marginalized, teaching them to use their knowledge as power.
We congratulate Ms. Muriel as this month’s dual language teacher of the month.