Educator Feature: Ana Wright
Bilingual Kindergarten Educator
Bear Creek Elementary School Dual Immersion Program in Bend, Oregon.
BEA Building Representative and Co-Facilatator of the Employee Resource Group for Staff of Color
“Ana has a heart for learning, yet her journey within education has been different than most. She started in our schools as an educational assistant, teaching small groups of students as they learned to read. During this time, Ana took classes during the evenings and weekends in order to obtain her teaching license. Even though she has now been teaching in the Dual Immersion program for several years, Ana continues to be a lead learner at Bear Creek.
Ana is quick to ask to be part of any and all professional development that comes her way. Most recently, she participated in a book study focused on the idea of belonging in schools. As a result, she has sought out and implemented several engaging activities to strengthen the sense of community the students feel in the classroom.
Teaching and learning are important to Ana, and she feels a personal responsibility to the students in her care. She recognizes the power that education has had in her life and strives to give great learning experiences to all students, especially those whose first language is not English. She feels proud to know that these students see her as someone who looks like them and has a background that may be similar to theirs. Ana wants all of her students to feel a personal value and pride for diverse languages, cultures, and experiences and she is happy to share hers with them. Our school is so lucky to have Ana on our team!”
Ana Wright is a Bilingual Kindergarten Educator at Bear Creek Elementary’s Dual Immersion Program. She is also a Bend Education Association Building Representative and Co-Facilitator of the Employee Resource Group for Staff of Color.
Tell us a little about what you do and where you work?
I am a bilingual kindergarten educator. Eighty percent of my teaching instruction is Spanish, and twenty percent is English. The classroom community at Bear Creek has nine Native Spanish speaking and eleven English-speaking students. Every morning I look forward to seeing my students and seeing how they are growing to be great citizens that will change the world. One of my passions is not only teaching them how to read, speak, and write in Spanish and English but, most important, teaching them values such as being kind, responsible, safe, and working hard to learn more and over all to appreciate cultural and diversity. In addition, this year I am exploring the area of leadership and got involved with the BEA, and became a building representative, as well as co-facilitator for the Employee Resource Group for staff of color.
Can you share a little bit about how you approach the topics of empathy and belonging in your classroom and in your school?
I make sure my students feel that our classroom is a safe place where they can feel comfortable, accepted, validated.
The way I approach empathy and belonging in my classroom and in my school is by treating others as I want them to treat me:
- As I walk the hallways every morning I greet my co-workers by their first name and if there are students around I greet them by the last name, so students know that we as well respect each other.
- I make sure to check in with them, give them complements, and wish them a nice day.
- I do the same with all students I see on my way to my classroom.
- I stand up by the classroom door and greet my students and the student across my classroom as they put away their backpacks.
- I make sure to show them how happy I am to see them and welcome them in to the classroom.
- I begin the day with a community meeting circle and I sitdown on the carpet with my students.
- I begin by saying “Good morning my dear students” They always respond with respect.
- I use a stuffed animal to take turns to talk. Students have the opportunity to ask each other questions about their feelings, if someone shares that they feel sad we stop and we acknowledge the feeling we do some breathing exercises, I never force my students to share if they are not ready.
- Also, students have an opportunity to choose who they want to play with and they learn to play with a different friend each day, they learn how they are same and different from each other through lesson and projects that we having learning.
- If for some reason there is a conflict at recess I have learned if we do not talk about it my students won’t be able to learn until we solve the problem.
- Community circle will happen though out the day as well as the review of the school agreements which are Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Resposible and Work Hard to Learn More.
Can you tell us how you got involved with COREN and why it’s a valuable experience for you?
I become involved with COREN by Michele Oakes, a Coordinating Body Member of COREN, when she asked me if I was interested to participate in an interview for educator of color and Jessica Pickens invited me to attend to the Amplify gathering where she is a facilitator. COREN is a door open for educators of color like me to have their voice heard to feel safe and supportive that we are not alone, and that we have a place were we can feel welcome and have a sense of belonging.