“I Knew It Would All Be Worth It”: Yazmin Gil’s Story

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

How did you decide to pursue teaching as a career?

I owe a lot the ELL para[educator] who helped me get an internship teaching Spanish my senior year in high school. Roxy Garca believed in me. Against all odds, in a system that wasn’t challenging me, she went out of her way to advocate for me. She made things happen.

When and how did you get certified as a teacher?

I earned my teaching credential from City University in 2008, eight years I started out taking evening at Heritage University, while working as a bilingual para[educator]. At times, I had to take a break and work extra hours to save up enough to cover tuition for for my next class. It wasn’t easy but I kept going because I knew it would all be worth it.

What kept you going during stressful times?

I had amazing coworkers and peers and mentors all along the way. People believed in me, pushed me to try new things — like the time I spoke at a statewide conference of school administrators. I didn’t see myself as a leader, but my principal did. I kept thinking, ‘My English isn’t good enough … my accent … I’m just a para.’ But she helped me practice my lines. I rehearsed with my co-presenters, and we got to feel a part of a community that believed in us professionally.

What are some other steps you’ve taken to advance your career?

I’m always looking for opportunities to understand and change the system outside the classroom. One year, I served on a language arts curriculum adoption committee. It was an opportunity to learn how the system works so I can make a bigger impact. I also went back to school for a master’s in instructional leadership.  And I’ve learned a lot from my peers and mentors in the Educators of Color Leadership Community.

Learn more about Yazmin’s passion for education.

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