This entry for teacher of the month comes to us from the Lone Star State. Raquel Cantu is a first grade bilingual teacher at Wilson Elementary School in Coppell, Texas. Ms. Cantu, who has been a bilingual educator for 22 years was inspired to become a teacher after coaching gymnastics during her college years. She got great joy from working with these young athletes. She witnessed first-hand how they excelled when they had someone who believed in them. It was not long before she realized that she could help motivate students to believe in themselves as an educator. She shared with us,
I want to be the educator I needed as a child, someone who brings joy to learning, someone who pushes learners to believe in themselves even if they are facing adversity.
Ms. Cantu is so proud to be at Wilson Elementary where she was named Teacher of the year by her school community. Her school is located in the Coppell ISD, where the motto is "You matter". She appreciates that Coppell ISD embraces dual language programs. Her school ensures the success of the dual language program by providing support for dual language learners through multi-cultural celebrations, ESL support staff, intervention and by providing authentic Spanish resources. The support provided to dual language teachers allow teachers like Ms. Cantu to help her students find their voice.
As a teacher she loves that she can instill a love for learning at an early age. Her classroom reflects the creativity and passion that she brings to share with her students. She has successfully integrated music and technology in her daily activities, giving her students a fun way to give them access to two languages, and empowers them in two languages. The use of songs and chants are powerful tools to help her students increase language development in two languages. Her colleagues share,
Raquel consistently uses creative, catchy songs and chants in her dual language classroom, which make it easy for her classes of eager learners to soak up both content and language.
The passion that she brings to her classroom is sometimes inspired by what she learns at professional conferences where she seeks out sessions that help her to meet the needs of the diverse students that make up her classroom. Her area of focus at these conferences has been with bi-literacy and bi-culturalism. She wants to ensure that her students are empowered in two languages. She learned about the importance of scaffolding lessons to provide a classroom environment that is non-threatening and that also reflects the diversity of her students. One of the ways that she makes this happen is by having multicultural and diverse literature available for her students.
Continue reading to learn more about the March Dual Language Teacher of the Month…