Fabiola Olvera, an eighth grade teacher at Bowie Middle School, has made it her mission to advocate for students just like her- ESL students moving to the United States for a better life. The only difference is that her experience was in 1999 and their experience is in 2019.
Fabiola came to the United States in 1999 as an eighth grader. As she reflects back on those early years in school, she expresses her gratitude for things most people take for granted- running water, AC, heat, free lunch, indoor bathrooms and a beautiful school building. But life was still very hard. She was in classes with ESL students and rarely interacted with the general student population. Fabiola felt like expectations were extremely low for her and her classmates. And because of that, she lacked the social and academic language needed to succeed after graduation.
Knowing she was behind, she enrolled in ESL classes at Mountain View College and surrounded herself with supportive professors and staff. She left debt-free with an associate’s degree and a desire to teach.
“I wanted to help students just like me. Students that moved to the US speaking Spanish and trying to learn the culture.”
No doubt, Mountain View College was a game changing moment for her.
More determined than ever to become a teacher, she enrolled at UNT Dallas and two years later, she had her bachelor’s degree in one hand and a teaching certificate in the other. After a few teaching positions in neighboring districts, Fabiola landed at Bowie Middle School and began teaching her favorite grade, 8th grade.
“Eighth grade is where you can help the most. I still have that influence on the students. At this age, students need to start thinking about their life and what they want to do. I can help them with these conversations and encourage them to follow their dreams. Sometimes they feel lost as middle school students, but I can guide them.”
And she’s right. You can find Fabiola standing in the hallway praising students for their behavior or hear her talking about former ESL students who came to her classroom every week after school for English instruction and went on to have the highest scores in the class, graduated high school and are now college students.
And these examples of Fabiola’s passion for helping students are too many to count. That’s how big of an impact Fabiola has made in Irving ISD and with her students. Just like Mountain View College was a game changer for her, she is a game changer for our students.
When asked what she wants to do in the future, she smiles and says, “I want to retire from Bowie Middle School.” That would not only be a dream for her, but it would be a dream for us!