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.