The beginning of a new year is is the best time to get inspired by stories that truly have a long-lasting impact on motivating people to be their best selves. DualLanguageSchools.org is intended to be a place for teachers, educators, and parents to learn from one another in creating the most bilingual, biliterate, diverse world, we possibly can. That is why for January’s Teacher of the Month, we have selected Mishelle Jurado.
Mishelle is described by her students as being “a loving, hardworking woman, with a great family. I feel as if I am one of her own daughters, and she treats all her students as her own. She influences every single one of us to keep striving for success and to be proud to be able to speak Spanish. She helps every single one us to grow as a person.” By her peers, she is described as “… well respected by all of her colleagues, and her classroom and school is always open to people wanting to learn from her and her students experience.” Mishelle has been teaching for 15 years, has served on committees and advocacy groups that drafted and passed the Seal of Biliteracy act in 2013, and serves on the board of DLeNM. Because of her plethora of accomplishments, we are more than ecstatic to feature Mishelle as our January Teacher of the Month!
My students are changing lives every day.
How long have you been involved in education?
I have been a teacher for the last 15 years in Albuquerque Public Schools in three different high schools. In my early twenties, I worked as a bilingual preschool teacher and headed a bilingual after school program. I have taught Spanish, Spanish for Bilinguals, 10th grade Spanish Language Arts, and AP Spanish Lit(12th grade) and Language (11th grade).
What was your biggest influence in becoming an educator?
My husband is the driving force behind why I do what I do. He does not know that, but it is true. He came as a teenager to the United States in the 1990’s and did not get what he deserved in our school system. Today I try to provide what he should have gotten. Teachers who gave him every possibility to make the choices in life to excel at whatever he would have wanted.
Continue reading to find out the impact Mishelle has made on her students..
How did you arrive at Atrisco Heritage Academy?
I came to Atrisco last year as the new Biliteracy coach. Due to the loss of a teacher, I went back into the classroom. This year I teach three classes and work with both teachers and students regarding their language development in and out of the classroom.
What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
When I see the light come on and how students can see their own growth. When I can become a presence in the classroom that quietly guides learning. When I learn from them, when they take the reins of where we go in the classroom. I love the fact that I am able to witness young people fall in love with literature, even pieces that they did not like- but learn to love.
What do you think makes your classroom stand out?
I believe my classroom is a caring space and I am attentive to the students, it’s different, welcoming. It’s a big family, it’s about creating community. El ambiente, it’s fun, they feel comfortable while they are learning. Physically, it’s colorful and there is always time to interact with classmates. The energy there is open to learning. I am at the door every day to welcome them and at the end of class I make sure to send them off with positive words.
Have you conducted research or presented at any national or state conferences? If so, which ones?
Not at this time. I am in the process of working on my Ph.D.
How do you challenge student performance/creativity outside of the classroom?
Assess each person, to achieve their individual potential. For many students, this is hard for them to accept and they think I assess very hard. Essays and annotated bibs, academic language, all ways they can redo work, with feedback, high expectations for everyone, to use creativity as well as academic skills.
It’s a big family, it’s about creating community. El ambiente, it’s fun, they feel comfortable while they are learning.
Continue reading to see how Mishelle has been able to inspire her students..
Which three words would you use to describe your school leadership?
Inspiring, knowledgeable, dedicated.
Which three words would you use to describe your students?
Brilliant, talented, unique.
What does biliteracy mean to you?
Everything. It is our way of life and learning how to use it in a productive manner is my mission in life. I hate when students tell me that they cannot do something in one language because they learned the concept in the other language.
How have you helped your students understand the value of biliteracy?
I have worked for many years on the Bilingual Seal Portfolio as a new manner in which to assess Dual Language students. In this intensive assessment students must academically and linguistically reflect on who they are as DL students. This has been a life changer in so many ways. The portfolios have created a space where student agency and voice are the stars of the assessment. Students are able through a creative and rigorous process to become the experts of their biliteracy.
I hope they learn to appreciate language more, especially with my high expectations to be free, be more responsible, and help them develop their own voice by instilling in them the importance of their voice.
What kind of impact do you see your students having in the world?
My students are changing lives every day. When people come from other schools to visit and meet our students and witness what is possible at the high school level, my students realize how fortunate they are to have our program. The students continue to create change in our community by demonstrating what bilingual people are capable of in the US. They are delving into all areas of the workforce and universities. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing them make their dreams come true. I see my group of students being leaders and hardworking members of society, speaking in two languages.
What kind of impact do you hope to have on your students?
I think I can help them realize what they are able to do as student and as person. I push them to the best of their capability even when they cannot see it. I hope they learn to appreciate language more, especially with my high expectations to be free, be more responsible, and help them develop their own voice by instilling in them the importance of their voice. I hope that I am helping them to know about their language, culture and their roots. I push them to better their reading and academic skills that are needed for class, challenging them to do their best, and give second and even third opportunities. I also push them to understand that life happens and as long as they communicate what is going on, I am here to help them. I accept them completely. I motivate them always by bringing others to talk to them and educate them about all the possibilities in life so they do not get tired of just my voice. We work together to get to class, and their lives in order, in order to help them in organizing themselves. I hope they become the best they can be. When we talk, there is a sense of familiarity and trust. With my recent arrival students I help them want to do better, make sure that English is also a priority although my class is in Spanish. And that it’s ok to struggle. I provide a space for unity as a group, students are not isolated, we don’t have to share the views, we just have to respect each other.