Hispanic Heritage Month: Sun Valley teacher helps English learner students integrate

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 11:47 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - 14 percent of Washoe County School District (WCSD) students are English learners and at Esther Bennet Elementary School the majority are Hispanic.

That’s why the work of teachers like Amy Guevara, who knows what is like to be in a classroom and not be able to understand, is crucial.

“It was, it was really hard, asking to go to the bathroom and my teacher wouldn’t know what I was asking so then I would have to point or just have to get up without asking and my teachers wouldn’t be too happy about that,” she said.

Now, she’s using her path to benefit the future of others, helping students like Gustavo Pacheco Rios learn or better their English.

“I didn’t know how to pronounce clock and she helped me how to pronounce clock and too, when like, I forget stuff she starts and like helping me,” said the eight-year-old.

“In the beginning of the year, I look over the data and see who are the students who will need my services more than others and what I do is pulled them in a small group and I target their language skills,” said Guevara. “I target four language domains that are speaking, listening and writing, and reading.”

Guevera has been working at the school for three years and her impact goes beyond the classroom.

“I also translate during parent-teacher conference week and I think by parents knowing they have someone whom they can communicate to at the school, brings a feeling of being involved,” she said.

Guevara is not the only one students can relate to. The school’s principal, Gladis Diaz is also bilingual and of Hispanic descent.

“We want our kids to be successful and so really, we just want to inspire and motivate them so that they can see themselves within that professional,” said Diaz. “They too can be a teacher; they too can be a principal one day.”

Guevara says her goal is to get students to integrate by embracing who they are and their culture.