My Why - Yazmin Gil: “Bilingualism is an Asset”

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Yazmin Gil, Dual language kindergarten teacher at Hilltop Elementary School, Highline Public Schools

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

Learn more about Yazmin’s pathway to education.

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