Educator Feature: Yoselin Viramontes
English Language Development and Spanish for Heritage Speakers Teacher, Ridgeview High School
“One of the best things about working alongside Yoselin, or Miss V. as her students call her, is that she is a fierce advocate for her students and they lead by her example. She has created an environment that operates from acceptance and compassion. It is a place where multilingualism is honored, celebrated, and mobilized. It is a place where students who are new to the US and new to English can breathe a sigh of relief and take risks in their learning. These spaces are paramount to the success of our newcomers and multilingual students and the RVHS community is so lucky to have her on their team as a champion for equity and student success.
Yoselin goes above and beyond to provide her students with opportunities to showcase their amazing assets. She has built something very special with her Si Se Puede Club, and It has been incredible to see the transformative outcomes of their efforts. She has cultivated students who are empowered to speak their truths, serve their community, and share their cultural heritage with pride. She has made a tremendous impact on the lives of young people and I cannot wait to see the ripple effect of her hard work!”
Yoselin Viramontes teachers English Language Development and Spanish for Heritage Speakers at Ridgview High School in Redmond School District.
Yoselin, tell us a little bit about your role and where you work?
I work at Ridgeview High School. I teach English Language Development and Spanish for Heritage Speakers. Teaching English Language development is really important because I am supporting students with academic and content specific language. In this role I am able to remove language barriers and help push in with other classes. For my newcomers, I am able to teach them about our educational system and help build their language skills through listening, writing, speaking and reading. In my Spanish for heritage speakers I am able to emphasize the importance of embracing our first language and taking pride in being bilingual and multicultural. Students are able to appreciate their funds of knowledge and learn academic Spanish all while learning to celebrate their own experiences.
I have been teaching for three years. I am currently receiving my Master’s in Teaching through George Fox University. I am involved in advising a school club, Si Se Puede. We focus on leadership and giving back to the Latino/a/x community. We also focus on embracing diversity and creating a welcoming and caring environment for all students.
Can you share more about your journey to becoming an educator?
As a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I spent countless hours pretending to be a teacher with my friends. When I attended Portland State University for my undergrad, criminology and criminal justice stood out to me. It was then that I thought I wanted to work with youth in correctional facilities. However, I was redirected in fulfilling my true purpose. After moving back to Redmond, I was hired as a community liaison. I truly believed this was going to be a transitional job. While being in this new role in the Redmond School District, I began to revisit my thoughts on becoming a teacher. I was reminded of the importance education plays in our teenagers.
My decision of becoming a teacher was solidified after speaking to my amazing mentor and boss at the time, Brittany Cocciolo about my love for advocating and making a difference in adolescents. She supported me throughout the entire process and shared the resources available to me. She taught me about Grow Your Own and mentored me as much as she could. Because of this and the support of my loved ones, I am where I am today. I get to plant the seeds of inspiration and empowerment one day at a time. I love the work that I do because it fills my purpose knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of others and my community.
What does it mean to you to be a Latinx educator?
Being a Latina educator means the world to me. I am able to make a positive impact by sharing my story with other students that relate to similar experiences as I did growing up in Central Oregon. I am able to connect with students on a personal level because of the community we belong to.I am able to affirm that their lived experiences matter. Relationships are very important, I know they are one of the most important things about my job. Building healthy, positive and trusting relationships help optimize student success and student engagement in school related activities.
Additionally, I feel like I can support my newcomer students who are Spanish speaking. I am able to help remove some of the barriers they experience when they first arrive because I understand that. I think students know that I genuinely care about their academic success and personal growth which allows them to open up and accept support when needed. Growing up I wish I would have had a teacher that shared similar traditions representing my identity. However, I am glad I get to be that person for my students. In my role, I am able to bring up concerns and new perspectives when discussing underrepresented groups in our schools. I want to ensure that all students feel loved, seen and heard in their educational journeys.
What are your favorite ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage in the classroom?
I love celebrating Hispanic Heritage month by having my students research famous influential hispanic figures and creating presentations on them. Additionally, students have created art projects and have shared their cultural experiences and identities as a way to honor their Hispanic Heritage, too. I have also had students interview family members and bring their experiences into the classroom.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage month is so much more than identifying famous people, but rather celebrating that we all should embrace our culture and values. I try to incorporate lessons where students can feel proud of their heritage and their experiences. Their stories have power and purpose in my classroom, but also outside of the classroom. In the Si Se Puede club we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by selling Mexican snacks during lunch as a way to share a piece of our culture. Additionally, for our annual lip sync tradition at Ridgeview High School, students participated in the performance by dancing traditional Mexican music as a way to embrace cultural values and traditions.
Why is it important that we support both students and educators of color in Central Oregon?
It is important that we support and continue to support students and educators of color in Central Oregon because we need more representation in historically underrepresented groups. Having this representation gives younger generations a new perspective on what they can achieve. They aren’t just a statistic, but rather change makers. Students and educators play an important role in shaping our future. By having people that can empathize and advocate in a way that others cannot is vital in supporting student success. Students and educators of color in Central Oregon bring valuable assets to the classroom and help promote and cultivate a culture of belonging and inclusivity.
What advice do you have for BIPOC individuals that are interested in pursuing a career in education?
My advice for BIPOC individuals is to pursue what they love doing. Do not let fear get in the way of pursuing and fulfilling your purpose in life. Education is not easy, but it is worth it. It is fulfilling and rewarding. It is okay to be scared, but do not let it get in the way of your dreams. Students need compassionate and positive role models in their lives and educational journeys.