September Dual Language Teacher of the Month: Marisol Galarza!

All students deserve teachers like Marisol Galarza. Ms. Galarza teaches at Bardwell Elementary, located in Aurora, IL. We learned of Marisol from Diane Soerens, who is a parent of a student in Ms. Galarza’s class. She wrote to us that,

I am so appreciative that my son has had Ms. Galarza to help him through this season. She has shown an abundance of patience, kindness and encouragement. Every morning she signs on with a smile that our children can count on to start their day. I am continually amazed at how she recognizes the needs of the individual student even through a computer screen, and she then offers extra time to build relationships in smaller groups or one on one sessions. In our check-in phone calls, she has calmed my worries, spoke to the strengths of my child and reminded me of what is important.

Ms. Galarza has been teaching for six years and during this time, she has taught grades K-2. Her biggest influence in becoming an educator was her mom. Her mom began working in public schools when she was in kindergarten.

I enjoyed watching her prepare her materials and teach. She helped me put together a pretend classroom in our home and it was my favorite thing to play. I would even take my imaginary students on field trips!

She stands out because she teaches in the school district that she grew up in. Ms. Galarza loves that she can relate to her students and give back to her community through education. After graduating, she became a substitute teacher and had the opportunity to teach at different schools across her district. The following school year she applied for a first grade bilingual position and was hired.

The best part of being a teacher is seeing students realize their potential. It is wonderful to see the satisfaction they obtain from their accomplishments and know I play a small role.

One of Ms. Galarza’s many accomplishments, is that she implemented the dual language program in her district. She participated in several dual language conferences and helped write curricular units for their program. She has also planned and presented workshops for dual language parents. She has applied dual language research and principles that she has learned in conferences to her instruction. She even learned about the biliteracy unit framework and strategies that can support biliteracy development, and also how to develop and implement a dual language program.

Most importantly, the knowledge I have gained has helped shape my understanding and beliefs about dual language education. My classroom stands out because my students know that the priority in our class is for everyone to feel safe, respected, and loved. Once my students feel safe, respected, and loved, they are prepared to learn and take the risks for necessary growth.

To encourage student performance and creativity outside of the classroom, Ms. Galarza does this through family projects and by encouraging students to participate in events in their school district and their community. For each of her units, she tries to plan for one family project. For example, in the past her students and their families have created posters about their heritage and habitat dioramas. Her students have also performed in her school district’s Posadas and Black History Month Celebrations.

 To me biliteracy is not only the ability to read, write, speak, and understand two languages, biliteracy is also an individual’s cultural awareness, tolerance, and appreciation for other languages and cultures. I help them to understand the value by introducing them to books, music, food, traditions, and values from a variety of cultures. In addition, I like to introduce my students to important leaders in history and highlight how language contributed to their success. We also discuss how language can bring people together to help one another.

Something that makes Ms. Galarza stand out is that she sees her students as collaborators to make the world a better place in different ways and at faster rates than ever before. She sees them using technology and biliteracy skills to transcend to new levels of interaction and contributions in our society. We greatly admire Ms. Galarza’s contributions to education and making our world a better place.

I want the most influential impact on my students to be one that helps them be emotionally healthy and kind individuals. I want them to remember how important it is to help and respect each other. I hope that I am able to help my students feel safe and for them to know that I believe in them.

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