Our hope of celebrating dual language teachers for their commitment to bilingual, biliterate and multicultural education came from the realization that more should be done to honor the journeys and dedication of educators. From the start, the DualLanguageSchools.org team noticed dual language district and instructional coaches expressed similar opinions in their nominations. When nominations came from parents, a different chord was struck. One that epitomized teachers' capacities to successfully share with students, schools and communities unyielding passion and consistent altruism.
This month's Dual Language Teacher of the Month, Rosa Denson, was nominated by several parents because of the dynamism they observed in their children and experienced during classroom visits and school activities. One parent asserted, "[She is] the only teacher in our school to hold tutoring for 1st and 2nd graders by utilizing and empowering upper graders." Another parent explained, "She has two sons of her own, yet I see her classroom light on late into the evenings as I pass by the school. This is a dedicated teacher that I believe should be recognized for all she does!"
From an early age, Rosa proved she was destined for a career in education. If you have ever wanted to help your community, Rosa's path toward dual language education is bound to inspire and motivate your educative journey.
How did your parents and friends support your journey to be an educator that you made clear at 5 years old?
I have always been so fortunate and blessed to have the most amazing friends and colleagues as well as the most loving and dedicated family. I have an incredibly supportive husband who understands that teaching is my vocation. When I was five years old, I told my mom I was going to be a teacher. She took the time to "play school" with me and allowed me to be the teacher. She always told me that she knew I was going to accomplish exactly what I set my mind to do. She was a stay at home mom but babysat kids in our neighborhood. Being the youngest of four, I feel I got special attention from my siblings and the kids my mom took care of. Playing school with my siblings and the kids my mom babysat inspired my love for teaching very early on. It's awesome how play can inspire a love for something.
In high school, I tutored several students. I remember tutoring a remedial student during lunch at least twice a week who struggled in math and reading. That was one of my most rewarding experiences. I can clearly remember how happy he was and how excited I felt when he smiled because he was learning. In college, there was no hesitation or doubt that I would do everything possible to get a bilingual credential and obtain my master's degree in education. All of the everyday things my parents did and continue to do for me, as well as their example of resiliency and dedication to their children, continues to inspire me as an educator and parent.
What would you like to share about how you first became acquainted with dual immersion?
I previously taught in two schools, Christian Sorensen Elementary in Whittier and Kingsley Elementary in Montclair. Both offered a Transitional Early Exit program which is a bilingual program model that serves a student identified as limited English proficient in both English and Spanish, and transfers the student to English-only instruction. I knew that dual language schools existed and felt that the dual language model presented the best opportunity for students to become bilingual, biliterate and multicultural by continuing Spanish and English instruction throughout the grade levels. About 10 years ago, when I learned about Ontario Montclair School District deciding to incorporate a magnet dual immersion school at Central I was so thrilled. The first thing I did was find out about how I could get my son (who was in kindergarten then) to attend in first grade.
Did you initiate the dual immersion program at Central Language Academy?
I am not sure who initiated the dual immersion program at Central Language Academy. However, I believe it was most likely a joint effort of principals and district staff due to high interest in having such a magnet school within our district. There were actually several schools that offered dual language within our district. However, the district decided that one school would become the magnet language academy and Central was fortunate enough to be chosen. I believe that my previous principal who retired several years ago, Mr. Gorman Bentley, was very instrumental in making sure that all the pieces came together to start this language academy. He was very passionate about the program and this inspired the teachers to be passionate about it as well.
Whenever a new program is started, the early years become so important because they build the foundation for the program. I am so happy that I was able to begin teaching at Central Language Academy a year after the program began. It makes me feel like I am a part of its foundation.
Continue reading to see what Rosa Denson has added to the culture of Central Language Academy.