January 13, 2013

About Us!

Read on to learn more about the authors of this blog!


My love for ESL actually began when my mom made me go with her to a migrant camp in Southern Illinois to help teach English.  I also appreciated how hard my grandparents worked to learn English and wanted to do something in my life to honor them.  That is when I became a 2/3rd grade bilingual teacher in the Bronx, NY.  I taught in both English and Spanish, and used my love for social studies, music, and theater to help my students learn English.  I had the pleasure of working with Kate as ESL teachers for K-3rd graders.  We loved to collaborate to create thematic units as well as help other teachers learn how to best help ELLs and their families.  For several years I directed an after-school program for parents to learn English alongside their kids.  They learned how to help their children at home even if they didn't know English.  For a few years I worked throughout NYC to help teachers integrate balanced literacy and technology.  This was especially important to help ELLs and struggling readers to learn in an innovative and engaging 21st century way.  In my current job working in the non-profit education sector, I help teachers and administrators with leadership opportunities.  I am also busy raising my bilingual 1 year old Camila Isabel!
Favorite Children’s Book: Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch
Favorite Bilingual Author: Alma Flor Ada
Go-To Professional Book: Balanced Literacy for ELLs, by Linda Chen and Eugenia Mora-Flores
Favorite Food: Fresh figs
Interesting Fact: My dad came to this country with the name Gaetano, but when he first went to kindergarten he found out that his name was changed to Thomas when he was the only one left who didn’t raise his hand after the names were called out.  In his time, assimilation was the norm.  He is proud of me for helping students to become literate and proud in both languages.



I started my ESL teaching career as a New York City Teaching Fellow after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology.  I went to school at night to work on my Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.  During the day I taught ESL at a public elementary school in the South Bronx.  My students were mainly Spanish speakers who had lived their whole lives in the United States.  The school has a strong bilingual program, as well as pull-out ESL.  I currently teach in a suburban elementary school in New York where my students are from all over the world.  Many are in the United States for only a short time while their parents work or go to school, but a growing number of students come from families who will live here permanently.  While I teach students from South and Central America, Europe, and Africa, most of my students are from Asia and the Middle East.  ESL is delivered through a combination of pull-out and push-in services.  I also work with parents of English Language Learners (ELLs) to improve their own language and reading skills, and to teach them how best to support their children's education.
Favorite Children’s Book: The Dot, by Peter Reynolds
Favorite Author: Mo Willems
Go-To Professional Book: Understanding your International Students: An Educational, Cultural, and Linguistic Guide, by Elizabeth L. Zollner et. al
Funniest ELL Moment: I was praising a class for being on its best behavior.  “Keep it up!” I chirped cheerfully.  One (rather talkative) student raised his hand and said,  “Umm…don’t you mean ‘Keep it down?’”

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