The Dual Language June Teacher of the Month is Flor Hernandez- Saavedra!
Flor Hernandez Saavedra of Badger Springs Middle School is a remarkable teacher, and has been involved in education for seven years, all seven spent teaching middle schoolers. She is now in her second year as a DLI teacher, and she is very proud to have taught her first DLI cohort at their district and feels fortunate to continue to be a part of such a thriving program.
Being an immigrant to this country I was supposed to be another statistic. Luckily, I was very fortunate to have been part of the AVID program in high school where I had amazing educators who pushed me to become the best version of myself. They changed my life and I told myself that I would try to do the same for my own students.
Ms. Hernandez- Saavedra was working for another school district at the time of her interview at BSMS. She remembered that she had not signed her intent to return paperwork for the following school year. She loved her previous district and will forever be grateful for the opportunities that she had there, but felt in her heart it was time to spread her wings and take a chance at a district closer to home.
My interview at BSMS went very well, the ELA coach was part of my interview panel, she made me feel right at home, and spoke of the amazing programs that were happening at the site. She took me around the school where I interacted with students who reminded me of myself. You could tell how much she cared for the students and how proud she was of her school. I had done some research prior to my interview as well and learned that Badger Springs was a diamond in the rough and I wanted to be a part of the amazing things happening there. I was offered the position that same day and with no hesitation I said yes!
Ms. Hernandez- Saavedra says that she wakes up every morning excited to go to work (even via zoom), and that her students keep her grounded, challenging her everyday and enjoying every moment together. They enjoy making mistakes, coming up with new strategies, and lesson plans sometimes go out the window and they improvise on the spot. She truly believes that her and her students are a team!
The DLI program at Badger Middle School is very important to Flor and her team as they have started it from scratch, and with the amazing leadership at the school it is clear that it is one of the finest in the country. Badger Middle School was asked to present at the 2021 School’s to Watch Virtual conference and made quite the splash with their presentation.
My classroom is organized chaos, my students know they can be themselves and together we come up with activities to help them in their learning. I remember one time last school year when one of my students kept looking outside and said “Que dia tan lindo, porque no vamos a leer afuera” . We didn’t think twice!!! We grabbed our textbooks and had our lesson on the grass underneath a tree 🙂 My students are my priority and I make it my goal to build healthy relationships with all of them where they can feel safe in my classroom and excited to learn.
BSMS offers many clubs and activities for all their students to showcase their creativity. Ms. Hernandez- Saavedra is proud to add that she is also one of the co – teachers for their Ballet Folklorico dance club. She encourages all her students to get involved and make lasting memories during their time at BSMS.
Flor believes that part of BSMS’ success is in part due to her amazing administrator, Mrs. Mejico. Mrs. Mejico is the reason why BSMS has a DLI at the school in the first place. She went above and beyond to make sure the district gave them the opportunity. She supports the DLI teams, and this is evident through the fact that BSMS was just recognized as the only middle school with the DLI/Junior Scholars Blended program for the district; which opens up many more opportunities for students.
My students are breaking down barriers everyday and they make me so proud to call myself their DLI teacher. It is an entire new generation that is growing proud to be biliterate. Their future is bright, our societal norms are changing and the education system is being blessed with a new positive outlook for dual language development…International relationships, thriving in their fields of study, changing the world!
Flor believes that biliteracy is realizing the value of knowing two languages, and says that being a DLI teacher reminds her of this everyday. When she came to this country, she felt pressured to assimilate very quickly to be accepted, but still felt ashamed for being an immigrant in school. It still amazes her and makes her very proud to be part of such an amazing movement where we are not only encouraging dual language development academically but helping students realize that, “El que sabe dos idiomas vale por dos”.
I want them to know my story, I want them to know their families’ stories. I want to feed their flame, encourage them, push them to their academic limits. Reminding them that we are in an amazing country where the possibilities are endless, education is the equalizer and no matter the circumstances in life, if they work hard enough anything is possible. Lastly, pride. I want them to walk with their heads held high, to know their worth, and that they are not only changing their own lives. but impacting future generations.