Monday October 2, 2023

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month is about celebrating the rich culture of the Hispanic community that is prevalent in Oklahoma City and in our country. We have much to celebrate, but must also acknowledge the challenges our schools face in regards to English Language Learners and ways to address these challenges for our students. One way is by continuing to focus on building bilingual teachers, which we are doing at Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation.

Elizabeth Claudio is a Second Grade Teacher at Adelaide Lee Elementary School and is a 2022 graduate of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation’s Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Program. She gave a speech to new graduates of the Bilingual and Diversity Teacher Pipeline Programs at a special graduation event hosted by OG&E in May 2023. There are currently 65 participants in the program; 45 of them are bilingual.

We are all better because she is one of our teachers and we are all better because our community is filled with beautiful diversity that teaches us to acknowledge, understand and respect each other for our differences. These are Elizabeth’s words. These words depict Elizabeth’s heart for her students and her community.

“A year ago, I was in your same shoes, I understand the struggles, the sacrifices, and barriers you had to overcome to get to the finish line.

I myself being a first-year teacher has not been easy, I find myself struggling constantly. One thing I have learned as a first-year teacher is that it is okay to not know the unknown. It is okay to ask questions, it is okay to start over with classroom procedures, and most importantly it is okay to seek for help among your administration and team members.

Being a Bilingual Teacher Pipeline graduate has opened many doors for me, especially in the means of communication with the Hispanic community. Breaking the language barrier and seeing the reaction and expressions of Hispanic families is priceless. On numerous occasions students and their families have given me a thank you, a thank you for speaking their language, sharing the same cultural background, and being a role model for the Hispanic community.

Being part of the Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Program through the OKCPS Foundation has impacted my family and myself not just economically, but how education is the very foundation in which we as individuals grow and formulate the knowledge we gain through life into meaningful ways of adapting to the world.

Graduates, I want to say thank you for making teaching your passion, from this day forward your life long teachings will impact thousands of children that will step foot in your classrooms.

Before I close my speech, I want all graduates to reflect on these words…. A great teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart. 10 years from now, a student will not only remember what you taught them, but how you impacted their life.

Once again, congratulations 2023 graduates. Thank you.”

–Mary Mélon-Tully, President and CEO of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation.

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