A Very Special Week

This week has brought forth one of my proudest moments! I’ve ✨officially✨ joined the 4% of Latinas with a Master’s Degree in the US. This has been a hell of an experience, but it has also been one of the most rewarding achievements of my life and I have my family and friends to thank.

My parents came here before I was born with the idea of the American Dream. They had nothing except a crib for me and spent much of the first months of their marriage sleeping on the floor in their shared apartment in East LA. Eventually, they made the move to Chicago, and through hard work, dedication, and a little tweaking, they have taken that American Dream and made it their own.

For most of my life, my parents were undocumented and lived in fear of the uncertainty of what that status meant. We had countless times where our hearts skipped a beat because police lights flashed in our background and couldn’t go out after dark because of traffic stops. These memories fill my childhood and teenage years. And now, I look back and I am so proud of who they became, as this never stopped them from doing their best. And above all, they have raised my sister and me to have the same ideology, work ethic, and perseverance. They taught us to reach for the stars and give up. I owe them everything and this achievement is not only mine but there’s too.

I’ve also been blessed with having my Boo. To most people, Arturo is the funny guy who is just an overall good time. There’s no one he hasn’t made laugh and is always the life of the party. To me, he’s the love of my life who has supported and loved me for almost 9 years. He’s held my hand through some of the toughest moments of my life and also, made me the happiest I’ve ever been.

This past year was a big struggle for, not only me but for all teachers. The pandemic, apart from taking away some of our loved ones, forced us to deviate from our normal pedagogy and embrace a completely different way of teaching. I had moments of doubt, where I broke down and began to reconsider if teaching was for me. Yet, Art was always with me, reminding me of my passion for teaching and learning, the love I have for my students, and my dreams of being the teacher I needed when I was younger. All of this, with a smile on his face and the patience I aspire to have. Day after day he has pushed me supported me and reminded me of why I became a teacher. And as he and I begin to build our life together, I realize how lucky I am to have him in my life. His successes are mine and vice versa, so finishing this program was not only for me but for him, too.




The Importance of Parent Involvement in a Dual Language Program

The Dual Language program has been on the rise as a top program in education in the United States. Dual Language usually consists of the child learning two languages simultaneously and building connections between them to reinforce their language. This has become “the best program for students to learn English while keeping up with grade-level schoolwork through the home language” [1]. The goal of dual language is for students to obtain academic achievement, biliteracy and biculturalism, and sociocultural competence. 

Dual language students…

    • Score higher on achievement tests in both their first and second languages
    • Are more engaged with classroom instruction
    • Have a stronger bicultural identity and self-esteem
    • Are significantly more mature for their age
    • Are happier and more motivated
    • Achieve higher school graduation rates
    • Receive more scholarships to study at universities
    • Are successful bilingual professionals as adults
Thomas, W. P., & Collier, V. P. (2017). Why dual language schooling. Dual Language Education of New Mexico. 

Yet, if you are reading this, chances are you are already a dual language parent or you’re a teacher looking for reasons why to include families in your classroom. The truth is this can be a very rewarding experience for teachers and parents that also ends up benefiting your students. Parent involvement in the classroom is essential in a dual language program!

“Parental involvement is absolutely critical in dual language because the dual language approach requires parents to take the long view of their child’s academic and social development over short-term gains. Trust in the dual language program over the long term and consistent support at home are key factors that can influence a child’s academic and social progress during their elementary school years.” Jonathan Fisher, Dual Language Coordinator

First, let’s define parent involvement and what it looks like in the classroom. Parent involvement is the relationship that teachers and parents, or families, build when “sharing a responsibility to help their children learn and meet educational goals” [2]. There are many ways that parents can get involved, even when they have a busy schedule or are unsure of how they could be a part of the classroom. 

“Parental involvement is imperative in dual language as there’s  a lot at stake, from advocating for bilingual children’s right to learn in 2 languages (parental involvement is very critical for special education and bilingual students) to advocating for a well resourced and well funded dual language program.” Gissel Escobedo, 4th Grade Dual Language Teacher

Research has linked parent involvement in the classroom “to better student attitudes, improved academic performance, and a reduction in dropout rates,” [3], while also lowering low self-esteem, redirection in the classroom, and development of behavioral issues. Parents and families are their child’s biggest allies and therefore, creating a partnership with teachers can lead to building a strong foundation for the success of their child. 

“The basis of dual language education is to support and enhance the mother language as well as immersing them in their culture and their history. Parents offer so much in regards to their culture and language. They are the child’s first teacher and by involving them they feel empowered and more willing to be involved in their education.” Viviana Ortiz, 3rd Grade Dual Language Teacher

​​So now comes the fun part. How can YOU be a part of your child’s classroom? Well, there are many ways, and some you may already be doing.

    • Communicate with your child’s teachers 
      • Introduce yourself! This is essential to the beginning of any good relationship. Share who you are and how you hope to contribute to the class. 
    • Connect with the classroom 
      • Volunteer for activities, such as chaperoning field trips or planning school events. These can be time-consuming, but can easily be done by teaming up with a few parents from the class. Teamwork makes the dream work! 
    • Become a Guest Storyteller
      • Read one of your favorite books or share a cultural folktale. Kids love hearing stories! 
    • Share your experiences or special talents
      • Dual language classes love to hear about real-life connections they can make to what they’re learning. Why not share your knowledge as a mechanic when the 4th grade learns about gears? Or explain the life cycle of a flower when the 1st grade learns about plants? 
    • Participate or host fundraiser events
      • Need to pick up dinner? Well, McDonald’s is having a fundraiser for your school. Treat yo’ self and yo’ kids!
    • Become a parent ambassador
      • Share your positive experiences with members of the community to motivate them to join in on the fun! 

“Parental involvement is important in the dual language program because it helps support their child outside of school. Being bilingual shouldn’t stop at 3 o’clock.  It is important for parents to know what their child is learning and how they can continue to support them at home to bridge school and home together.” Jennifer Ortiz, 3rd Grade Dual Language Teacher

At home, there are various ways that you can continue to practice parent involvement. It is important for children to continue to learn in their first language until it is developed to a high academic level. Doing so actually helps them in the process of learning a second language as they apply what they know, and recognize patterns within languages. Research has shown that multi-language learners who lose their native language are less likely to perform well in school because of the limits placed on their cognitive development [1]. Using your first language, you can stimulate your child’s cognitive and linguistic development by:

      • Reading a book aloud
      • Asking questions
      • Make decisions together
      • Discuss daily activities
      • Give moral support
      • Set goals together
      • Share family values
      • Telling stories

“Just like every other student, dual language students require plenty of support from educators and family. Dual families have so much value because they can be an important resource to their own children and teachers too!” Lili Lopez, Bilingual Math Interventionist

There is so much research that supports parent involvement in dual language schools and the benefits it has on their children. With parent advocacy, dual language schools can flourish and create communities that empower the languages and cultures of all. So what are you waiting for? Get in there and become a part of your child’s dual language classroom!

About the Authors 

My name is Omayra Nieves. I am a Chicago Public School teacher and a 1st generation Chicago native. While attending Northeastern Illinois University, I began working as a teacher assistant and gained experience working with children of various ages. After being a teacher assistant for 6 years I received my degree in Elementary Education and began teaching. I have been teaching for 7 years and am currently a 3rd grade Dual Language teacher at Barry Elementary School. I decided to pursue my Master’s in Dual Language Teacher Leadership at Roosevelt University to gain the knowledge and tools that will help me become a more effective dual language teacher.

I am passionate about helping students be successful academically and advocating for the dual language program that is proven to better assist in their success.



My name is Andrea Samayoa. I began my educational journey by obtaining my Associate in Elementary Education from Triton College. There, I realized that I wanted to do more to help children with their language. In 2018, I graduated from Dominican University with a Bachelors’s in Elementary Education and endorsements in Bilingual and ESL Education. Since then, I’ve continued to serve the community that I grew up in at Emerson Elementary in the South Berwyn District as a 2nd grade dual language teacher. Currently, I am finishing my Master’s Degree from Roosevelt University in Dual Language Teacher Leadership. 

As a first-generation American and the first in my family to finish college, I have experience with English Language Learners, both from the students’ perspective, as well as the teachers. I believe that the students’ perspective is what inspired me to be a teacher and have vowed to advocate for them and their families so that they get the equitable education they deserve.

[1] Thomas, W. P., & Collier, V. P. (2017). Why dual language schooling. Dual Language Education of New Mexico. 
[2] How parent involvement leads to student success. Waterford.org. (2021, April 6). https://www.waterford.org/education/how-parent-involvment-leads-to-student-success/. 
[3]National Education Association (2015). How Educators Can Advocate for English Language Learners. Accessed 7/28/21 at http://www.colorincolorado.org/sites/default/files/ELL_AdvocacyGuide2015.pdf

One More Day…

… until sleeping in late

…. until going to the bathroom when necessary is possible

… until staying up past 9 and not regretting it in the morning

… until being able to savor your food without rushing

… until carrying only one bag

… until not having to say, “That’s your choice” or “I’ll wait”

Just one more day and next week is mine! It’ll be great to recharge 🙂


Spring Break is almost here! And the weather has been perfect!

I just want to share one of my favorite poems by Billy Collins titled Today.

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.


Today was our celebration! And it was an overall success!

We spent last week organizing our thoughts, drafting our ideas, rewriting on fancy paper, and recording ourselves – all of which were put on display today!

We had an Oscar-style dress-up day (along with crazy hair day for Spirit Week), and held our celebration at the end of the day. The second grade rolled in on a fancy red carpet, which they were able to walk and strike a pose on at the end of the celebration! Since I knew two students would not be in school this week, I had them pre-record celebration introductions to nominees, so they were still part of the fun!  Plus, I created QR Codes for each of the students, so during our celebration, we were able to watch each other’s opinion videos.

It was a long and exhausting day, but it was overall worth it! Seeing their smiling faces be proud of all the hard work they did and enjoy their time makes it all worth it! Good job 2S!


Although there was no sun today, it was definitely a bright Sunday! As our countdown dwindles down to the last couple days until our celebration, the list of things to do just keeps growing!

Today, my dual bestie, Sara and I were able to plan and tweak some last minute things, as well as buy some decorations. After seeing their excitement Friday, we know that our students are excited to wear their fancy clothes and to be able to share their opinion pieces with the rest of the class. They have all written out their ideas, recorded themselves reading, and are ready to see who won (best book and best character). Tuesday will be exciting and we hope our students have an amazing time as we highlight all their hard work in our Oscars-esque writing celebration!

Cal, the Mariachi

Here is another video of Cal.

Although only a year old, he’s developed quite a personality for himself. He’s lively, talkative, a little shy, and a music lover, especially Mariachi music. It really amazes me how much he’s grown and how quickly he’s gone from a newborn to a toddler. The developmental stages at this age are really something spectacular to witness because you see how much children take in and learn. Time really does fly when you’re having fun!

La Cruzada

I tremble under the cold, hard floor. It’s dark, so dark I can’t even see my hand in front of me. I wonder if I’ll make it out alive.

Are these my last moments? Is this the last thing I’ll ever see? Darkness.

The air is dry. So dry, I can’t breathe.  

I can’t breathe.

The darkness is overwhelming. Quiet chatter is scattered but diminishing. All of us, all strangers, are just searching for the same dream. A dream to be somebody. To be anybody. 

The walls are starting to close in. The dream we had, the dream we fought so hard to get, we won’t ever reach it. We’re done.

I’m done.

Suddenly, a dim flash breaks through the roof. The soft light caresses my skin, as cool, fresh air begins to seep in the sliver. I begin to regain a bit of clarity, as I see the end is far from near. I’m ready. I’m ready for what is to come. And all because a sharp, serrated knife has cut a hole in the ceiling.

My savior, a knife. A knife that could have been used to rob me. That could have cut and killed me. But ultimately, it saved me.

No one warns you of the dangers upon leaving home. No one tells you how much hunger and pain you’ll suffer from. No one tells you how lonely you’ll feel or of the sense of distrust you’ll have. They just tell you how lucky you are to have this opportunity and how happy you’ll feel once you’ve “made it.”

My dad, aunt, and uncle began their descent into the Land of the Free. They paid a coyote to help them cross over. Little did they know, this would be one of the most treacherous hardships they would encounter. My aunt, at the young age of eleven, my uncle, fifteen, and my dad, twenty-four, were told to be quiet and get into the back of a shipping container, that had been modified to smuggle people. Dark, dank, cramped, and small, they traveled amongst twenty other individuals, in a space that was fit for ten, unsure of any dangers that may arise from trusting complete strangers. My dad recalls that along the way, the oxygen level had dropped so low that people were fainting. Even he, who had the responsibility of taking care of his new bride’s siblings, was beginning to feel woozy.  My aunt, on the verge of losing consciousness, recalls how hot and dry the air felt on her face and how she was sure she wasn’t going to make it out of there. It wasn’t until one of the other passengers pulled out a machete and made a hole in the ceiling that slow bits of fresh air began filling the container. It was then, that they knew, they still had a chance.


It was a busy day with a flow of ideas, a glimmer of hope, and a sentiment for the good things that are to come.

Unfortunately, as a cause of that, there was no time to write! Hopefully, tomorrow(today) I get to everything on my task list. 🙂