Showing up for students so they know their voices matter. Learn more on Diana Rodriguez's why.
My Why - Yazmin Gil: “Bilingualism is an Asset”
Seeing, believing, harnessing untapped potential
When Yazmin Gil immigrated to the U.S. at age 15, she had already completed the academic equivalent of a high school diploma. But many of her credits from Mexico didn’t transfer. So she was placed in 10th grade, grouped with English Language Learners for most of her classes. She rarely felt challenged academically.
Seeing potential that other teachers overlooked, an ELL paraeducator recommended Yazmin for an internship teaching Spanish at a local private school. It was a turning point for Yazmin, her first step toward a career in dual language education.
“It really opened up an opportunity for me. It made me realize, ‘Wow, I can do this!’”
Yazmin now teaches kindergartners in a Spanish-English dual language program at Hilltop Elementary School in Burien. She’s mentored several Future Bilingual Teaching Fellows through a teacher training partnership between Highline School District and Western Washington University.
Today, students Yazmin first taught as kindergartners many years ago are starting to graduate from high school, a growing number of them with a seal of biliteracy on their diplomas.
“A lot of students think they have to speak English, English, English only at school. I always say, ‘It’s OK to speak your home language here.’ It’s more than OK. It’s an asset.”
“I try to set an example for my students to be proud of who they are and where they come from. That helps me connect with parents, so I can be supportive of them, too.”
— Yazmin Gil, dual language kindergarten teacher, Hilltop Elementary School, Highline
Are you a paraeducator interested in becoming a teacher?
- Visit TeachWA.org to learn about three alternative routes to certification designed for current district employees.
- Alternative routes allow you to continue working in your district while completing your teacher preparation program.
- Questions? Go to our Becoming an Educator tool to connect with an Educator Pathway Navigator who can respond to questions specific to your situation.
Learn how Glenn Jenkins made the switch from telecommunications engineer to teacher in his early 40s, when he and his wife were about to have their first child.
Learn why Glenn Jenkins made the switch from telecommunications engineer to teacher in his early 40s, when he and his wife were about to have their first child.
Read more about Alex’s pathway from high school teacher academy to paraeducator to certified teacher
Once a student in high school teacher academy, now a mentor. Learn more about Alex Castro-Wilson's why.
Read about Tenea Jones' story on her educational pathway towards becoming an assistant principal at TAF@Saghalie 6-12, Federal Way Public Schools.
Read about how Tenea Jones, Assistant Principal at TAF@Saghalie 6-12, Federal Way Public Schools got a seat at the table, putting youth voices first.
Read about Yazmin Gil's story on how she pursued teaching as a career.
Read about Yazmin Gil's why and how "Bilingualism is an Asset"
Read about Ahmad Tirhi's story in pursuing teaching as a career.
Ahmad Tirhi grew up in Federal Way, the son of immigrants, proud of his Palestinian heritage, fluent in Arabic. He never had any teachers who looked like him until college.