Teacher Spotlight

Claudia Rivas - Spanish

Preparing for a Global Future

Claudia Rivas, Spanish teacher at Estes Park High School, knows the value of being bilingual. She moved to the United States as an emerging bilingual student herself, which allows her to empathize with students who share the experience of learning English as a second language. She sets high expectations for her students in their native language of Spanish because she knows that being bilingual opens the door for many opportunities for students in college, career, and life. Ms. Rivas teaches Spanish classes for native speakers, as well as Advanced Placement Spanish to allow our EPSD students to continue enhancing reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in Spanish.

There are many benefits to being bilingual, including accelerated cognitive abilities such as increasing the brain's capacity for attention, memory, and creativity (Marian, V., & Shook, A. 2012). Ms. Rivas is expanding opportunities for students. Students who take classes from Ms. Rivas have an opportunity to obtain the Seal of Biliteracy on their high school diploma. This high honor is awarded to students in the state of Colorado who reach high expectations in English and a second language by obtaining high test scores. Ms. Rivas encourages her students to aim for these honors in English and Spanish. Ms. Rivas prepares students for participation in the global world beyond high school.

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Celebrating a World of Language

The classroom atmosphere in Ms. Rivas's room continually erupts in conversational Spanish. Students work collaboratively in groups, laugh together, and enjoy working together. Students prepare a presentation together to present to the class that they are excited about. Ms. Rivas rotates around the classroom, checking in with each group to answer questions and check for understanding. The classroom environment is adorned in flags from various Spanish-speaking countries as well as cultural artifacts from Mexico, which is where many of her students have ancestral roots. Students in class participated in creating artifacts for display at the Día de los Muertos celebration, and are expressed excitement about the upcoming celebration. Language is rooted in culture, so in her classroom, diverse culture is present everywhere!

¡Gracias Sra. Rivas! ¡Le agradecemos!