2016 - 2017
Jorge Ortiz was voted Smith Academy's Teacher of the Year. His philosophy of education is as follows:
Teaching is an opportunity to resonate my passion onto my students. When they sense my passion, they acquire a passion for learning. I see teaching as a way to build positive relationships with my students. Once that relationship is established, barriers are broken, and the wealth of knowledge that you can provide that student is infinite. Every child has a story. My job is to listen in order to make meaningful connections for the purpose of inspiring students to reach their highest potential.
Margarita Flores was voted Smith Academy's Bilingual Teacher of the Year. Her philosophy of education is as follows:
What is the most effective way to help build a better future for our society? To me, the answer to this question has always been education for our children and youth. Bilingual education is, in the United States of America, the most pragmatic way to aid new citizens to achieve a life of professional success.
Teaching children in their native language helps them to better learn the English language without losing academic content. Before, immigrants received education in English only, which made learning at home more difficult. However, they received a lot of help in their native language from their families back at home. Today, many of our children do not receive the needed support at home due to their parents working night shifts, often being substituted by electronic devices as their kids’ company. It is in that regard that bilingual education aims to cement academic instruction in the native language and to transfer that knowledge into English. In this way, written material in both language is developed through good examples, as well as by closing the educational gap in the population.
The transition from bilingual education to an English-only education is easier if the native language has good foundations. That is the purpose of bilingual education. For example, it is noticeable that when children arrive at this country with a good education background in their native language, it is easier and faster for them to master English. On the contrary, coming into the United States without a good education in their native language makes the mastery of his academic abilities in both language a more difficult and arduous process. Bilingual education, if well implemented, helps the student to better receive and advanced English-only education.
Achieving success with a bilingual program requires that the teacher is committed to use the native language as a tool for the development of English, as well as to enter a comfort zone when teaching only in the native language. All children have the ability to learn, but it is necessary that they are provided with the tools needed according to their individual skills. My goal as an educator is to help my students be successful in both languages by giving them the adequate instruction. In this way, we can help them open the doors to a secondary and post-secondary education that gives them a better future. And, above all, their success will contribute to the social and economic growth of the United States of America.
Laura Hastings was voted Smith Academy's ESL Teacher of the Year. Her philosophy of education is as follows:
My philosophy of education is quite simple; I believe that you have to capture the students' heart before you can capture the students' mind. I heard that while attending a discipline workshop and though I knew it and believed in it, I had never heard it put so beautifully. Also, I believe that all students can learn and it is my job to figure out how each of these individuals do learn. It sounds simple, but this is what I truly believe. It has proven to be very successful throughout my career. First their hearts and then their minds, it's a winning combination.
2015 - 2016
Teacher of the Year: Serjio Medina
Bilingual Teacher of the Year: Isela Garcia
ESL Teacher of the Year: Dolexia Allen