I am a bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural Latina woman. I have the privilege of being the mother to four amazing children, Haley, Milan, Ian and Hayden, and I am blessed to have a loving husband, Loren, without whose love and support I could never pursue the career that I love so much. He and I have relied on storytelling to keep alive and pass on the stories of those who came before us, their challenges and their triumphs because above all, we recognize that we stand upon their shoulders. I spent 18 years as an educator in Southern California, and since then have had the great fortune to work for and with some true education giants – Dr. Douglas Reeves, Larry Ainsworth, John Hattie, and for the past 12 years, Dr. Paul Bloomberg. I have published two books and have been a contributing author on 4 books. I am blessed to be able to call my work my passion. The road has been long and winding, but I now have the age and wisdom to recognize that every setback and every victory set me on the path to where I am now.
If asked to think of a defining moment in my life, a moment that ignited that passion within me, I would have to say that it was the moment when I asked my college professor for a letter of recommendation to attend graduate school. I will never forget the feeling when, filled with the pride of being the first in my family to graduate from college but already a little doubtful that it was something I could achieve, she looked across her desk at me and said, “Graduate school isn’t for people like you.” As I walked out of her office, feeling the sting of the tears I would not give her the satisfaction of seeing, I decided I would prove her wrong.
My story is not unlike the stories of many of the students currently sitting in your classrooms. It begins with my mother and father. She, with barely a 2nd grade education from a small, rural village in Mexico, and he, with a 6th grade education from Greely, CO. They couldn’t have been from two more different worlds, but what they shared was the steady strength and determination that can only come from surviving extreme poverty and hardship. Despite their limited education, they persevered through hard work and determination and raised their three children to believe that with a good education, anything is possible. From an early age, my parents also recognized an opportunity in our bilingualism and both encouraged and nurtured the two languages. My father would often say that his dream was that his children would never have to work as hard as he and my mother did for so much of their lives, and he believed with all his heart that a college education and bilingualism would be our key to success. I’m proud to say, my mom and dad accomplished their goal. Despite the challenges and voices to the contrary, all of their children completed undergraduate and graduate studies, and, not surprisingly, are all educators.
The families of Multilanguage Learners come to us with the yearning, hope, and promise of the ‘American Dream.’ Families like my own who emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and raised their children in a bilingual, bicultural household where Spanish was the primary language. Every day, they turn their children, the greatest love of their lives, over to us to nurture and educate. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that every one of those children is afforded the opportunity to realize that dream. It is indeed, our moral imperative.
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