Two students and three teachers received honors from the Bilingual-ESL Education Association of the Metroplex (BEAM), an organization that promotes the collaboration of local bilingual and ESL educators and students.
Students Christopher Camacho (fourth grader at Good Elementary School) and Arely Hernandez (eighth grader at Bowie Middle School) won the top prize for their submissions in the student-essay contest. With the help and advocacy of their teachers, Camacho and Hernandez submitted essays written entirely in their second language about how the pandemic has challenged and impacted their lives.
“Our student essay competition provides students a platform to showcase their talents and pride in their culture,” says Eber Perla, who serves on the BEAM board and works in the district’s ESL, Bilingual and Language Service department. “Their stories revealed the added challenges they face in the pandemic, but more importantly, it revealed their resilience and commitment to excel.”
Irving ISD also swept the Teacher of the Year contest, with Susanna Huffman of Nimitz High School winning secondary ESL teacher of the year, and Catherinne Alfaro of Lively Elementary School winning elementary bilingual teacher of the year. A panel of judges selected Huffman and Alfaro for their commitment to serving English learners and innovative teaching philosophies.
“This honor means a lot coming from an organization like BEAM that empowers English learners through educators,” says Huffman. “I am proud to be part of their community.”
For Alfaro, this honor reminds her of her passion for bilingual education and serving her students.
“I know what it feels like to struggle because you are learning a new language or because you left everything behind,” says Alfaro. “Being a bilingual teacher allows me to represent my hardworking community, and more importantly, it allows me to understand my students, because I am one of them! Their story is my story.”
Farine Elementary fifth-grade teacher William Sanchez was also rewarded for his dedication to bilingual education with the $1,000 Future of Education scholarship.
“Through the completion of my program, I hope that I can be better equipped to share the importance and value of bilingualism, biliteracy and multiculturalism with other educators and stakeholders so that the positive effects reach the lives of our diverse students in Irving ISD,” says Sanchez.
For Blanca De La Sierra, Director of Bilingual, ESL & Language Services, she couldn’t be more proud to have five members of the district family honored for their dedication to bilingual education.
“Irving ISD is extremely proud of our students and teachers,” says De La Sierra. “These honors reflect the work that is setting up Irving ISD as the premier district in Bilingual and ESL education.”