Congratulations to Salem State Alumni, Marta Garcia, who was recently awarded 2022 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year! Garcia previously participated in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) English to Speakers of Other Languages (MATESOL) program at Salem State. This is now Garcia’s 15th year of teaching in Salem, she has previously taught at Bentley Academy as well as Bowditch Elementary, and is now teaching at Witchcraft Heights Elementary School. She teaches all levels of elementary school but this year she is teaching third and fifth grade classes specifically focused on teaching multilingual students. The CRCA was able to speak with Garcia about her career in a brief interview.
Garcia and her daughters have all grown up bilingual with English being her second language. Being bilingual has always been a part of her life and her family’s. She received her language training in Spain as an English Language and Literature Teacher and gained a good grasp on the English language there. This training has allowed her to better help her students and relate to them while they are learning English. She can understand the challenge they are going through based on her own experience of learning a new language. Her life experiences have given her the tools to adequately assist her students.
While discussing her work with students, Garcia expressed the importance of learning about other cultures when learning a new language. She expressed that the cultural aspect of language is important because, “these students come with other languages and other cultural experiences; the more I listen to my students the more I learn about the world.” Garcia says learning about other cultures is both beneficial for the students and beneficial for teachers as well. She encourages future teachers at Salem State to become ESL teachers, “the students learn very quickly, and quickly become bilingual, they adapt to the culture and it is amazing to see.”
Currently Garcia is working on theme-based units as part of the REACH curriculum. Her fifth-grade classes are studying the theme of “traditions” with a social justice lens as well as environmental justice and science. Garcia stated the goal being to learn about other cultures in authentic, non-stereotypical ways in which they include lots of crafts, artwork, and music as they develop the language and content. Moving into the holiday season they will be turning their focus to indigenous people and the different foods they eat and will be exploring Native American perspectives within this, which is especially important moving into November.
We are so happy for you Ms. Garcia! Thank you for all of the amazing and meaningful work you have done for students over the years, congratulations!
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