Marta Jimenez

Photo of Teacher of the Month: Martha Jimenez

The October Dual Language Teacher of the Month, Marta Jimenez, is someone who has dedicated her life to her students. A teacher for the last 19 years, she first came to our attention by the Dual Language Coordinator of her school (John Tyler Elementary, Washington, DC), Laura Chapa.

Children are my life-long passion. Besides, having 11 siblings, I think I am at an advantage. I have always been surrounded by kids and understand them well. I vividly remember the first time I entered a kinder classroom as a pedagogy student. The moment I stood in front of them I knew that teaching was what I wanted to do for a living. I think it is the combination of the kids’ sensitivity and vulnerability that attracts me the most; I believe that supporting them and helping them through their early educational and social-emotional experiences is one of the most important things one can do professionally. It will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Ms. Jimenez spent many years teaching in Spain, and later moved to Washington, DC in 2009. She immediately began looking for professional opportunities, and seven years ago, she took her talents to John Tyler Elementary. She had full confidence in this decision and never doubted it for a single second. She describes teaching at Tyler as offering a great professional challenge that combines the difficulties of bilingualism with those of integrating kids with extremely diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

Photo of Teacher of the Month: Martha Jimenez

Sometimes kids look at you with a sad face and say "I can’t do this." Then you help them a little, offer a couple of tools, push them a bit, and let them try again. When they suddenly realize they can do it, their eyes open full with satisfaction and their faces light up. That is the best feeling for a teacher.

Ms. Jimenez has also challenged herself and her knowledge outside of the classroom. Last year, she presented at LEA (LEA Institute: It Takes a City: DC Does it Best – Elementary, Secondary, and Specialized Education Session Presentations). There, she was able to share experiences with other teachers and the mutual love for education.

She has applied the research from the institute into her classroom. Particularly those pertaining to movement, yoga, and meditation. She finds it very useful to mix different types of activities in the classroom; it helps kids enormously, especially with focus.

Continue reading to learn more about our October Dual Language Teacher of the Month…

I like when the children feel free in the classroom (within our routines). I like to design challenges for them, so they look for the strategies to face them and enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishment. I try to trigger their curiosity, so they ask a lot of questions. I also love when they are disappointed that the class is finished, and they leave school hungry for more the next day.

Ms. Jimenez challenges creativity outside of the classroom by managing an extracurricular program called the Spanish Film Club. Every year, the kids become the stars of a movie shot in Spanish with the help of professional film makers. In the Spring, the film is premiered in a movie theater in the neighborhood, so the community can enjoy it and the kids have an opportunity to be recognized (including a trip in a limo!) The program was born as a method of learning Spanish while having fun, but it has grown well beyond that. Kids learn Spanish, practice their scenic and artistic skills, and develop emotionally. Spanish Film Club has also become an incredible integration and community-making mechanism.

Ms. Jimenez describes the school leadership as having an effective strategy by creating an "Enthusiastic, optimistic, and fun" atmosphere for their teachers. Due to this atmosphere, she creates students who she describes as being "motivated, energetic, and challenging".

Photo of Teacher of the Month: Martha Jimenez

Biliteracy is an open door. It widens kids’ horizons in a global world. It allows them to learn and enjoy more, making them richer personally and professionally.

Ms. Jimenez tries to show them how diverse the world is, beyond Tyler, DC, and the USA. At the same time, she hopes they understand how connected they are to that world, and how it affects them. She believes that speaking Spanish is a great instrument for them to understand and enjoy that world.

An asset that Ms. Jimenez gives to her students is that she believes they will impact the world in absolutely every facet. She believes that they hold the key to not only their own, but our societal future. She helps them to understand this by trying to show them the importance of taking care of the planet and the people in it.

Ms. Jimenez would like her students to leave her class eager to face the world, and stronger and curious than when they entered it. She wants them to be fearless, and aware of their potential with a sense of pride in who they are.

"Ms. Jimenez deserves this award because of her passion to teach young students by engaging them using creative activities. She also has great skills supporting the language learning. Her classes are full of music, acting and other dynamic activities." -Laura Chapa

Photo of Teacher of the Month: Martha Jimenez

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