In the summer editions of Teacher of the Month, we will now be implementing a panel system where Dual Language teachers nominate other Dual Language teachers, so that the hard work of teachers is identified by those who understand the difficulties teachers face every day. Our current teacher of the month panel is compromised by Mishelle Jurado of New Mexico, Angela Palmieri of the Los Angeles area, Marylou Escobar of the Los Angeles area, and Clara Galindo of Whittier. These teachers have selected the past 3, and remaining teachers of the month for the rest of 2018. In the next months, we will implement an additional aspect of the teacher of the month series. Please stay tuned for these updates! To apply for the Dual Language Teacher of the Month panel, please send applications to team@DualLanguageSchools.org!
For the July Dual Language Teacher of the Month, our panel selected Mr. Jose Alonso Diaz of Lutacaga Elementary School in Othello, Washington. Mr. Diaz is exemplary of what all Dual Language Teachers strive to be. We came to learn of Mr. Jose Alonso from the principal of his school, Ms. Jennifer Perez. She told us that,
"Jose has been a dual language teacher in my school for the last 11 years. Mr. Alonso builds strong relationships with his students by sharing his personal story, encouraging them, and holds them accountable for using the target language. At all times Mr. Alonso puts the needs of his students first. He puts in countless hours outside of his contracted time to support science and other school events. Being a dual language teacher is not easy, but he makes it look that way!
Mr. Alonso graduated from Central Washington University in 2007. He has worked to achieve his master's degree and his national board certification. He most recently completed his 11th year teaching 5th grade at Lutacaga Elementary, 10 of those years as the Spanish 5th grade teacher for their dual language program.
Mr. Alonso was inspired to become a dual language teacher at a young age. His family moved to the US in 1998 when he was 14 years old. Two weeks after moving to Washington State he enrolled at Othello High School as a 9th grader. He was placed in a shelter instruction where a translator would move along with a small group of students who needed the additional help in Spanish. Along with Mrs. Villarreal, the educational assistant and translator, he received instruction from Mrs. Pruneda for ESL. Since the beginning, Mrs. Pruneda and Mrs. Villarreal were an inspiration to Jose, and always pushed him to succeed. They were caring and passionate about their job.
From then on, Mr. Alonso knew he wanted to work somewhere to help students like himself and be the same inspiration and role model as Mrs. Pruneda and Mrs. Villarreal were for him. During high school, Jose worked as a high school helper and rotated through the different elementary programs during his senior year. One of the schools that he liked the most was a kindergarten class at Lutacaga Elementary, the same school he has been teaching at for 11 years. He was so impressed with the hard work from the teachers and the positive atmosphere among the staff that he knew he wanted to go return to be part of that culture.
As Mr. Alonso completed his education program, he began subbing for the Othello School District. After a couple of months, he was invited to do a long-term substitute teaching position and end the school year in a second-grade class. As the year wrapped up, several positions opened for the following school year. He applied for several grade levels, but the school was also transitioning to a new administrator. During the interview the current administration told him that he was mainly being considered for the 5th grade position, which would transition to a Spanish position as the dual language program expanded.
I was hesitant to work with the older students but agreed. After my first year, I loved working with that age group and have been in the same position ever since.
Continue reading to find out more about Jose's inspiring story...