The Dual Language October Teacher of the Month!
We are so excited to honor the remarkable Vanessa Martinez for our October Dual Language Teacher of the Month award. Vanessa is a 4th grade Dual Language-Spanish Educator at Walnut Grove School. Vanessa’s colleagues say that,
“Vanessa is an amazing dual language teacher who embraces the culture, loves her students and is Gem of a teacher at Walnut Grove school. One foot In her classroom you will see the magic in her teaching and students eagerness to learn.”- Cecilia Guerrero
Vanessa began teaching in 2004, with 16 years of teaching K-5. She has taught a range of grade levels: Kinder, First, Fourth, Fifth, combination classes K-1 and 4-5. She graduated from CSU, Hayward and completed her Teaching credential with a BCLAD in hopes to someday support bilingual learners. She continued her education and completed a Masters in Educational Leadership to become involved in decision making practices for her students.
“The reason I chose to be an educator was a passion that I felt to help others. As a young girl, I admired my own teachers and felt supported by several of them in my educational journey. I wanted to create an environment where students feel safe, welcome and supported in their own learning.”
She arrived at Walnut Grove K-8 school three years ago. Her two children have attended this Dual Language School for 8 years and she admired the success in their biliteracy education. She wanted to be part of the culture of biliteracy and stimulate growth in dual language learning.
“Being an educator is gratifying in many ways. The milestones of success and the experience of my students becoming self driven is the biggest reward. Recently, I had a student visit my classroom on her High School graduation day! She stopped by to visit, hand me a letter to share in her success of completing high school. She shared that she was continuing her education at a California University and wanted to share her milestone with her Kindergarten teacher (me). That moment has been the highlight of my career so far! The objective behind my role as an educator has been to impact young learners to become self motivated and in charge of their own journey.”
When our world is back to the new normal, she looks forward to the opportunities of attending conferences and training that provide proven strategies to support Dual Language Learners in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Attending conferences such as CABE allows the opportunity to network and meet educators who are also facing similar challenges in their classrooms and to compare their strategies and successful results.
In her classroom, she promotes cultural awareness, positive communication with others, encouragement through praise and recognition. She greets her students at the door every morning with a smile and a fist bump (pre-pandemic). She believes that this guarantees that they are welcomed into her classroom and it sets the tone that it will be a great day to make mistakes and learn from them.
“Students are held to high expectations. Students will exceed if they understand that material and concepts presented will be challenging, at first. I monitor student growth through data analysis. Students are encouraged and reminded that learning does not stop at our doorway. Learning continues and is expected to be practiced at home. Our classrooms have “Goals” posted and students can visually recognize the improvement of their efforts.”
To Vanessa, biliteracy means to fluently speak, read and write in two languages. In this case, her students possess the ability to demonstrate competence in English and Spanish. She models the value of having the ability to communicate, understand and practice both of her languages on a regular basis. She uses real-life experiences of how valuable it has been for her as a professional to communicate with more people due to the fact that she is bilingual. Furthermore, this profession has given her the opportunity to connect to her own culture with its language and traditions. She is proud to continue to speak Spanish and be able to communicate with relatives who are non-English speakers.
“My students will participate in a world that is more global than ever. They will have the capability to interact and engage with more individuals that are ambitious and self-driven. I would like for my students to embrace in their journey of becoming a multilingual learner. It would be favorable for them to utilize the skills from their dual languages as adults. ‘One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.’ -Frank Smith”