ENL Hernandez Fellow Spotlight: Maria José Olmos
Name: Maria José Olmos
Title: 2nd Grade Teacher
School: St. Luke Catholic School, A Notre Dame ACE Academy in Palm Springs, Florida
Diocese: Diocese of Palm Beach
How did you hear about the English as a New Language Hernandez Fellows Program?
I heard about the program from my principal, Mrs. Bacchus, who is a Notre Dame STEM Trustey Family Teaching Fellow and Pat DeMartino, our Notre Dame ACE Academies Regional Director of School Culture.
What drew you to the Hernandez Fellows?
During my first two years of teaching, the majority of my students were from Haiti or a Spanish speaking country and I was always seeking ways to connect with their families. I was eager to learn how my classroom could be more welcoming for my young ENL scholars from a Catholic university, since I grew up only attending public schools.
Why is supporting emergent bilinguals important for our Catholic schools?
I admire the belief that every child deserves a Catholic education and that any language or financial obstacles should be removed. Supporting our emergent bilingual students is building a stronger foundation for our Church. They are not the future, they are the current Church.
Describe one practice or strategy that you're excited to take back to your students and school community.
I am excited to incorporate intentional turn and talks in my classroom to increase the students comprehension, social, and speaking skills. I have already shared with students the Baba Yetu song of Our Father in Swahili that we learned during our summer classes and my second graders loved it!
How do you plan to share the message and content of ENL?
I plan to share what I have learned through ENL through emails, sharing materials in our faculty copy room, and PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). I look forward to creating and presenting the Professional Development that we have as an assignment in the Spring while making it manageable and relevant for our prek-3 through 8th grade and fine arts teachers.
What have you learned about language acquisition?
Through my coursework with the Hernandez Fellows, I've seen that all teachers are language teachers!
How has this experience shaped your vocation of teaching?
The ENL summer program at Notre Dame shaped my vocation as a teacher for the better and reminded me that my mission is to make God known, loved, and served.
Interested in learning more about the Hernandez Fellows?