Teachers are innovators, constantly finding new ways to supplement their students' education in fun, creative ways that make learning enjoyable. This could not be more true of Vanessa Garcia, our October Dual Language Teacher of the Month! Vanessa utilizes the arts to solidify her students' education, and provides them with a sense of creativity that goes beyond books, allowing students to explore with an artistic mind. Vanessa's dedication to her students exemplifies the qualities that we value at DualLanguageSchools.org, and we are thrilled to honor her as October's Teacher of the Month!
Read more to learn how Vanessa became such an inspirational force in the classroom...
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching since 1991. I started as an Early Childhood teacher for the Child Development Program in San Francisco, CA. I obtained an Early Childhood Associate Degree from the San Francisco City College. When I moved to Concord, I got a job as a substitute teacher for Mt. Diablo Unified School District. At the same time, at night, I worked as teacher for the Loma Vista Adult Center. I taught English as a second language to a group of mostly Hispanic, very motivated adults. I started working at Meadow Homes Elementary (my current school) in 2002 as a substitute teacher. I loved being a substitute teacher in my district because I not only worked in Concord, but in adjacent cities as well. I worked in Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek as well. My experience as a substitute is what solidified my commitment to get a teaching credential and work as a teacher. Meadow Homes was always my favorite school to substitute because it is where I felt most needed. I got a fellowship at the University of San Francisco and completed a credential program and a Master in Education in 2004.
I feel it's my duty to create an environment where they feel valued and they are interested and motivated to come to school.
You've worked in a range of positions from intervention teacher, CARE team coordinator, newsletter editor, PTA auditor, secretary and even presenter at CABE. What motivates your consistent activity in schools?
As an introvert, I initially was very reluctant to participate in any leadership opportunities at Meadow Homes. For many years I worked alone in my classroom, even having lunch by myself most days and finding collaboration days a painful chore I had to participate in. But then we had a change in leadership and I had the opportunity to work for our late principal, Dr. Mary Louise Newling. When my personal life made it difficult for me to keep up with the demands of teaching a regular classroom, she gave me the opportunity to have a more flexible schedule as an interventionist at my school. With a more flexible schedule, I was encouraged by Dr. Newling to help with the PTA (I served as the secretary), the school newsletter (editor and translator) and in the CARE team, I received the student referrals and helped coordinate the meetings. I did all of this while working with small groups of 4th and 5th graders helping them catch up on work. I think these opportunities are what made me come out of my shell, and also provided a perspective on how a school functions. There are so many pieces to take into account. In 2014 I returned to the bilingual classroom with new energy and a new perspective.