Building a Pathway for Future Bilingual Teachers

BTSA cabinet members (in grey), Julio Torres and Susan Guilfoyle (both in blue), wearing new club shirts. “I am bilingual. What’s your superpower?”

The Bilingual Teacher Student Association (BTSA), an undergraduate club at UCI for future bilingual teachers, recently hosted an informational meeting on the new Spanish/English bilingual education minor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  Spanish professor and director of the new minor, Julio Torres, explained the required courses offered in the School of Education, Humanities and Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  The courses will build foundational knowledge and skills in bilingual education; it will also build a pathway that will increase the amount of qualified future bilingual teachers in the field.  Lecturer and faculty advisor for BTSA, Susan Guilfoyle, discussed the fieldwork component in dual immersion schools.  Students pursuing the new minor will need to complete a minimum of 40 hours of fieldwork service in a dual immersion (Spanish) program.

A panel of bilingual UCI MAT students were also present to share their experiences as student teachers in dual immersion schools. Margarita Rodriguez, Karina Calderon and Elisa Garcia discussed lesson planning, interviewing skills and other related topics.  All three were undergraduates at UCI and Elisa was past president of BTSA.  All three have also secured employment as bilingual teachers for next year.

The majority of students attending the meeting were education science majors.  Many in attendance showed great interest and excitement in the new minor.  Students will be able to start declaring the minor in the fall.


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2018 CABE Teachership Awards

The annual California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) Conference was held in Sacramento this past week, from 3/28-3/31.  Five aspiring bilingual teachers were selected to receive teachership awards this year (see page 221 for all awardees); three of the five recipients were from UCI’s School of Education MAT program.  Margarita Rodriguez, Karina Calderón and Jennifer Chavez-Lanza (from left to right) were recognized at the annual awards luncheon held on Thursday, 3/29/18.

This isn’t the only year UCI MAT candidates have been recognized.  Past recipients of the award are now bilingual teachers at various dual language immersion programs.  In total, including recent recipients, nine have received this prestigious honor.  Some, like Megan Gibbs and Marco Castillo, recipients of a teachership award in 2014, are strong advocates in the field and have mentored countless bilingual undergraduates from UCI.  Megan is also a master teacher for many UCI bilingual student teachers enrolled in the MAT program.  They both teach at Gates Elementary School, a well known two-way  Spanish immersion school and strong partner school for many bilingual UCI students completing fieldwork hours at the graduate and undergraduate level in the School of Education.

Meeting Jose Luis Orozco

This year’s recipients were allowed free admittance to the conference.  They had the opportunity to attend many workshops and meet many well known individuals in the field of bilingual education.

Alma Flor Ada

Yvonne Estling, principal of Gates Elementary School, was also in attendance at the conference.  All three award recipients from UCI are completing their student teaching in two-way Spanish immersion classrooms at Gates in Lake Forest.  The principal is hosting seven bilingual student teachers from UCI this year.

Yvonne Estling with the Three Award Recipients



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Bilingual MAT Candidates at CABE Conference in Anaheim

UCI Bilingual MAT Candidates with Bilingual Coordinator

Bilingual MAT candidates, from the School of Education, began their spring quarter by attending the CABE (California Association for Bilingual Education) conference two weeks ago.  The conference was held in Anaheim from March 29 to April 1.  During their attendance at the conference, they met several school districts in need of bilingual teachers for their dual immersion schools and attended the various workshops offered, from current multilingual policy to dual language strategies in all content areas.

On the first day of the conference, Susan Guilfoyle, bilingual coordinator from the School of Education, moderated a panel of administrators from several new dual immersion schools in Westminster, Orange, Garden Grove and Fullerton (see Start-Ups: Lessons Learned From First Year Dual Immersion Programs, p. 73).  Bilingual MAT candidates had the opportunity to meet with the panel after the workshop to discuss job opportunities at their schools.

Bilingual candidate, Joanna Baires Amaya, attended the awards luncheon held on Thursday, March 30.  Among the many notable awardees during this luncheon,  CABE awards four teacherships to aspiring future bilingual teachers.  Joanna was recognized as the Charles “Chuck” Acosta Teachership (see Charles “Chuck” Acosta Award, p. 216) recipient this year.  Joanna is the sixth recipient from UCI’s MAT program to receive a teachership award from CABE.  All past recipients are successfully teaching at dual language schools.  Megan Gibbs, past award recipient, is now a UCI master teacher for bilingual student teachers enrolled in the UCI MAT program.  She is in her third year of teaching first grade in Spanish at Gates Elementary School’s two-way immersion program.

Megan Gibbs (on right) with Current UCI Bilingual Student Teacher, Cristina Rubalcava


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End of the Year Bilingual Teacher Celebration


Members of the growing UCI bilingual teacher community had their end of the school year dinner celebration at Brü Market and Grill in Lake Forest on June 9.  This past year, most of the bilingual credential candidates were placed at Gates Elementary School for their student teaching assignment.  During commencement over the weekend, eight future bilingual teachers graduated from the School of Education; seven in Spanish and one in Mandarin.  The celebration extended to present bilingual student teachers, undergraduates and alumni.  Some bilingual alumni, now employed as bilingual teachers at Gates, came to the dinner to congratulate the group.

Present and new cabinet members of the young undergraduate club on campus, Bilingual Teacher Student Association (BTSA), also attended the event.  The club was launched last spring and is fast growing.  Thus far, 90 undergraduates have shown interest in the club since its induction.  The club focuses on supporting future bilingual teachers by offering opportunities from fun social events throughout the year to community service at various dual immersion schools.  The club also provides valuable mentorships from past members and others in the bilingual education field.  Co-president, Alyssa Arteaga, introduced the new and present cabinet members at the dinner.  Susan Guilfoyle, bilingual coordinator and BTSA faculty advisor, introduced the bilingual alumni and student teachers.  Honored guest, Dr. Kevin Reimer, director of undergraduate programs at the School of Education, was given a gift from BTSA for his tremendous amount of support throughout the year.  It was a great evening to see so many bilingual Anteaters representing undergraduates, graduates and alumni; a community that will indeed grow in years to come.

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2016 CABE Teachership Award


Gabriela Gómez, UCI bilingual credential candidate, was recently awarded the Carlos Penichet Award at the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) Annual Conference in San Francisco on Thursday, March 24, 2016.  There were five awards given to future bilingual teachers during the awards luncheon.  The following are the other teachership award recipients in attendance from various regions:  Caren Pérez, Diana Zamora, José de Jesús Robles Gúzman and Laura Mendoza.

Gabriela is UCI’s fifth CABE award recipient from the multiple subject program since 2011.  Past recipients from UCI include:  Wendy (Ramos) Gonzalez (’11), Melissa Madrigal (’12), Megan Gibbs (’14) and Marco Castillo (’14).  All past recipients are employed at various public schools throughout Orange and Los Angeles Counties.

During the awards luncheon, many other awards were given to individuals making a significant impact on bilingual learners as researchers, administrators, teachers, parents and community leaders.  To read about all the recipients at the luncheon, please see:  CABE 2016 Awards.

The conference will be held in Anaheim next year.



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Members of BTSA are the Next Generation Teacher

2015-10-19 11.18.30

BTSA Officers for 2015-16

The Bilingual Teacher Student Association (BTSA) at UCI will hold its first meeting on Thursday, October 29 at 6:30 pm in the School of Education Building, #2001.  This club is open to any bilingual undergraduate interested in becoming a bilingual teacher.

UCI’s School of Education has a strong hiring rate for its bilingual graduates enrolled in their teacher education programs.  All bilingual multiple subject credential graduates were hired in 2014 and 2015; most were hired at dual language immersion schools.  The tremendous growth in dual language immersion programs has created many job opportunities for bilingual teachers and the trend is strongly predicted to continue with new dual language immersion programs opening every year.  The nation is experiencing a severe bilingual teacher shortage.

There are over 25 dual language immersion programs within 20 minutes of UCI.  This past fall, Newport Mesa Unified, Orange Unified and Westminster School Districts launched new dual language immersion programs in languages such as Spanish and Vietnamese.  Placentia-Yorba Linda and Tustin Unified School Districts are slated to begin new dual language immersion programs in Spanish in the fall of 2016-17.  Most dual language immersion programs in Orange County offer Spanish or Mandarin, but there now is a Vietnamese dual language program in Westminster and a Korean dual language program in Lake Forest.  These programs are multiplying at rapid speed in Orange County.

The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) has created a video to promote multilingualism and firmly establish a pathway to the Seal of Biliteracy in their schools.  They have also created a dual language network to support and provide resources to existing and newly formed dual language programs in the county.  Their next meeting is on December 9 from 8:30am-11:00am at the the OCDE in room D1009.  They also have network meetings for supporting 21st century skills in the secondary world language classroom.  Their next meeting will be held on November 12 at 3:30pm-5:00pm at the Santa Ana Unified School District.

This is a wonderful time to become a bilingual teacher.  The growing number of English language learners in our schools, tidal wave of dual language programs across the nation, and Obama’s recent 1 Million Strong Initiative, greatly increasing the learning of Mandarin by 2020, will definitely create an even stronger demand for bilingual teachers. Parents are also becoming more aware of the importance of being bilingual and are lining up to register their children in dual language programs.  Just recently, Patricia Gándara discussed how bilinguals did indeed have an advantage in the labor market in her new book, The Bilingual Advantage: Language, Literacy and the U.S. Labor Market.  If you are bilingual and are interested in teaching, know that you are the next generation teacher.


UCI School of Education’s Bilingual Teacher Candidates and Bilingual Alumni Attending the Annual Bilingual Luncheon, Fall 2015

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UCI Feature Story: Bilingual Boom

The School of Education’s bilingual credential graduates were recently featured on UCI’s homepage.  As dual immersion programs grow, the need for more qualified bilingual teachers will be needed.  Schools and districts start as early as March in the recruitment process to ensure they have enough bilingual teachers for their programs.  It is not uncommon to have multiple openings at various schools.  Some school districts in Orange County have up to 5 openings for the new year.

If you are interested in becoming a bilingual teacher at UCI, please visit one of the various information sessions or coffee chats held this summer at the School of Education.  Priority Admission  for 2016-17 is January 29, 2016 and if admitted and matriculated  for Fall 2016, a $2,000 scholarship will be given to the applicant.

For more information please visit, Master of Arts in Teaching.

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Three Generations of Bilingual Anteaters

Amy Kohn, Samantha Salas and Aries Magana

Bilingual Anteaters (L-R): Amy Kohn, Samantha Salas and Aries Magana

This past Friday, I visited Gates Elementary School in Lake Forest to supervise three bilingual student teachers in their dual immersion (Spanish) classrooms.  Currently, there are six UCI credential students placed at Gates for their last student teaching assignment.

My last visit of the day took place in Amy Kohn’s afternoon kindergarten class.  Contrasting the rainy gloom outside, four energetic individuals busily worked as a cohesive team with kindergarten students in a brightly lit classroom.  I observed Samantha Salas teaching her math lesson to a small group of students.  She was using  ten frames and manipulatives in one corner of the classroom as her master teacher, Maria Regueiro, prepared the tables for a bean toss activity that followed the lesson.  On the opposite end of the classroom, Amy Kohn was dictating sentences to her group of students.  As both of these lessons were simultaneously being taught, Aries Magana tutored students individually on the rug away from the two groups of students in a quiet corner.  Students were engaged in the activities that were carefully planned for them and all of the discussions heard in all four corners of the room were in Spanish.

In one kindergarten classroom, three generations of bilingual Anteaters collaboratively worked side by side, each contributing to student learning of the new Common Core curriculum.  Amy Kohn received her credential and master’s degree from the School of Education  last year and was one of the first students  hired from the program.  She also received her bachelor’s degree from UCI.  Samantha Salas is currently a student in the Master of Arts in Teaching  program in the School of Education.  With a few more weeks of classes and student teaching remaining this quarter, she is now actively applying and interviewing at different school districts for bilingual teaching positions.  Aries Magana is currently an undergraduate at UCI enrolled in Education 100, a course offered by the School of Education and is an elective for the new major in Education Sciences.

The education course focuses on training undergraduates to successfully tutor at various public schools and requires forty hours of fieldwork in an elementary or secondary school. Over half of the students enrolled in this undergraduate course this past quarter were placed in dual immersion classrooms where the target language is either Spanish, Mandarin or Korean. Coincidentally, Amy enrolled in Education 100 several years ago while an undergraduate at UCI.  Her experience tutoring dual immersion students solidified her decision to become a bilingual teacher.  Let’s hope it’s the same for Aries and the many other bilingual undergraduates taking courses in the School of Education.  We certainly will be needing more bilingual teachers for the growing number of dual immersion programs in California.

Currently, there are six  alumni working as bilingual teachers at Gates.  All six were placed at the school for their student teaching while graduate students pursuing their teaching credential in the School of Education and two were also UCI undergraduates. Myuriel von Aspen (’11) will be completing her fourth year at the school and is Gates Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year.  She is now a master teacher for UCI’s bilingual multiple subject credential students and has also mentored many bilingual undergraduates who have enrolled in Education 100.

UCI Bilingual Student teacher, Evelin Villanueva and Master Teacher, Myuriel VonAspen

UCI Bilingual Student Teacher, Evelin Villanueva and Master Teacher, Myuriel von Aspen

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New Dual Immersion Program for Orange Unified School District

Orange Unified School District will be opening a new dual immersion program next fall; it will be their second one.  The district is one of two school districts in Orange County to offer a Mandarin dual immersion program.  The other dual immersion program is in Laguna Niguel at Bergeson Elementary in the Capistrano Unified School District.  The dual immersion program in Orange Unified now has classes from kindergarten to fourth grade and has plans to expand to high school in the ensuing years.  The school, Fletcher Elementary, follows a 50/50 model of instruction where half of the time is spent learning in Mandarin and the other half of the day is spent in English.

The new dual immersion program will open in 2015-16 at California Elementary School.  The target language for this new program will be Spanish and will follow the 50/50 model where half of the day will be taught in Spanish and the other half will be in English.  The new Spanish Immersion Academy or iInspire Academia will  also be part of an exclusive one to one iPad academy where all students will have access to iPads for enhanced learning of new content in Spanish.  This program also intends to expand to high school.

These two schools accept students residing within and outside the school district boundaries.  Residents from other school districts can apply to enroll their children in either dual immersion program.  The necessary forms will need to be completed at the home school district and with Orange Unified.   For more information, contact the schools for tours and informational meetings that are held during the year.

If you have a child that is not yet attending school, it is best to start researching schools when they are 3 or 4 years old.  Many dual immersion schools and programs have long waitlists and I’m sure this new program will too.  They are already accepting applications for a second kindergarten class.

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Two New Dual Immersion Programs in Newport Mesa Unified School District

Newport Mesa Unified School District will offer two new dual immersion programs for the incoming 2015-16 school year.  College Park Elementary School will offer Mandarin and Whittier Elementary School will offer Spanish.  Both schools are located in Costa Mesa. Enrollment for these two schools are only open to students residing within their school district zone.  Applications are still open until April 15.

Newport Mesa will also launch six new programs for their high school students called their Signature Academies and five of these programs will be open for incoming ninth grade students next year;  the sixth one will start in 2016/17.  All of these new programs will focus on global competitiveness.  Corona Del Mar High School will specifically offer the Academy of Global Studies and Newport Harbor High School will offer the International Baccalaureate Academy.  Applications for all of their Signature Academies are also open until April 2015.

Here is an excerpt of their mission statement for their Signature Academies:

All NMUSD Signature Academies aspire to take students beyond the basics to elevate their academic vision. All academies have a global competitiveness theme. Students choosing to enroll in the Signature Academies receive unique curriculum options and supplemental activities that complement the highly successful core academic programs at our four high schools. Each academy in our high school zones approaches global competitiveness from a unique angle.

This is exciting news for Orange County!  As stated on their district website, their students will definitely make their mark on the world.

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