Ben Davis University High School
Efila “EJ” Jzar-Simpson
How long I have taught:
Belize 3 years
Guatemala 1 year
Honduras 1 year
Dominican Republic-2 years
Indiana for 7 years
My Scholarly Endeavors:
ABD PH.D.: Psychology Cognition and Instruction-Grand Canyon University
Master of Science: Education Curriculum and Instruction-Grand Canyon University
Certificate of Teaching: Education-Marian University
Bachelor of Science: Business Administration -Indiana University
Associate of Science: Computer Science-Indiana Institute of Technology
What I am Licensed to do:
English as a New Language
Elementary / Primary
Elementary / Intermediate
Middle School / Junior High
Credentialed for Higher Education/University
My Other Professional Activities
Designing virtual learning environments
Researching the brain and, learning and language in the virtual environment
Letters of Recommendation
From a Building Administrator
April 1st, 2016
To the Butler Teacher of the Year Committee:
I have had the privilege of working with Efila “EJ” Jzar for the past three years at the Ben Davis University High School. She has requested that I write her a letter of recommendation for her Teacher of the Year portfolio and I am honored to do so. Ben Davis University High School is an Early College high school that allows students to obtain both a Core 40 High School Diploma and an Associate Degree through Vincennes University in one of our four degree areas: Information Technology, Business, Health Careers, and Liberal Arts. We have also had a 100% graduation rate for the past five years with 60% of our students earning an Academic or Technical Honors Diploma and 90% of our students earning their Associate Degree. EJ currently serves as a credentialed Spanish teacher and ENL teacher supporting our English language learners. EJ has taught all four levels of Spanish at BDU including college level Spanish Literature and Poetry. EJ is also the sponsor of our International Club and serves on district-level committees for Spanish curriculum writing and textbook selection.
EJ is a lead teacher in our building when it comes to implementing technology-based instruction. Our students have one-on-one devices in the classrooms and she utilizes these daily pulling in the latest internet-based applications and tools to enhance their learning and provide immediate feedback so that she can constantly check for understanding and adapt her instruction as needed. EJ regularly provides professional development to the staff in the area of technology, sharing her resources with her fellow colleagues to utilize with their students. EJ also served as a mentor this year to our new Spanish teacher providing her with support while sharing her curriculum and instructional resources. Overall, EJ is a phenomenal Spanish teacher who really uses authentic learning in her instruction. She works very hard to enrich the lives of her students so they not only understand but immerse themselves in the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. She thrives on building each and every one of her students to be a future leader, college graduate, and culturally diverse member of society.
As a leading member of our climate committee, EJ works very hard to plan successful events to build school culture for both staff and students. Each year she coordinates a school-wide event with her International Club students for our annual International Dance where students are immersed in food, music, and culture from other nations. Her students complete well over 200 hours of community service each year through volunteering. EJ also leads a group of students to plan the theme and decorations for our annual Prom taking pride to create a beautiful and engaging evening for the students. EJ is currently working on a student trip to Spain which she initiated on her own and her plans include the opportunity for the students to fundraise much of the money needed to travel abroad. Overall, EJ is an amazing educator who is very creative and resourceful in obtaining resources and opportunities for our students.
EJ is one of the most dedicated and hard-working teachers that I have worked with throughout my educational career. She puts careful thought into planning her lessons and regularly utilizes cutting-edge technology and a multitude of creative resources to engage her students. She is a very creative teacher that also maintains a student-centered classroom where all resources are readily accessible to her students both in and out of the school environment. She works very hard to make sure information is always student-friendly such as curricular standards, which she breaks down into daily objectives and important concepts so students can fully understand what they are learning and why. She also utilizes the culture and authentic project-based learning to immerse her students fully while also learning the fundamentals of the Spanish language. Finally, EJ coordinates our school-wide WIDA testing for all ENL students. She takes great pride in her coordination of this testing by ensuring that all of the materials are organized, communication is provided to the staff and students on a daily basis regarding testing updates, and student time out of the classroom is minimized to reduce disruptions to instruction.
EJ is truly a student-centered educator and as such, she is greatly respected by both the staff and the students here at the Ben Davis University High School. This year EJ was recognized by her colleagues for her outstanding contributions to our students and staff and nominated as BDU’s Teacher of the Year. I truly believe that EJ would make an outstanding and well deserving candidate for the MSD of Wayne Township Teacher of the Year and I sincerely appreciate your consideration of her for this honor.
Ben Davis University High School
Twitter: @radaugherty, @BDU_Scholars, @BDUtv_News
From a Colleague
March 22, 2016
RE: Recommendation for Efila Jzar as Wayne Township Teacher of the Year
To whom it may concern:
Please accept this letter as my recommendation and endorsement for Efila Jzar as Teacher of the Year in Wayne Township.
“You cannot teach them if you cannot reach them.” This is one of many quotes I attribute to Efila Jzar, and it relates well to her connectivity with students. EJ (as I and others close to her call her) is a native Brazilian, and speaks English as a second language. This experience gives her a different level of credibility with her students; especially those she serves that are English language learners. EJ provides these students a safe refuge to learn the nuances of the English language without fear of ridicule or insults from other students. She is the building level teacher responsible for WIDA testing to make sure our language learners are progressing towards fluency. She is also heavily invested in the Hispanic/Latino community, often serving as a translator for the administrative office with parents that cannot speak English. EJ helps bridge the gap between our school and our families.
EJ teaches multiple levels of Spanish across three grade levels at Ben Davis University High School, is an innovator in the classroom, and is a “whiz” with technology. I would argue that she has the highest usage of students using 1-1 technology in the classroom of any teacher in our school. Most of the educational websites that are utilized in our building were discovered by her and used in her classroom. A perfect example of this is the website, Kahoot. Almost every teacher in the building is now using this website for everything from warm ups to reviews for summative assessments. EJ had been using Kahoot for a long time. Her willingness to present and share this during a morning professional development session demonstrates how she is invested in student learning not just in her classroom, but building wide. She is truly a team player.
EJ’s contributions to student learning and discovery go far beyond the classroom. She serves as the club sponsor for the International Club. The club welcomes students of all ethnicities and cultures. Each year, they sponsor an International Dance in which students can participate in dances from around the world that they have practiced during class. A few years ago, she was able to organize an event in which a professional dance group performed a number of dances that were native to multiple South American and Central American countries for our entire school at the auditorium at Ben Davis High School. EJ’s club also assists with an International Festival at our school every spring in which students, their families, and members of our community can come and experience many different cultures. Currently, she is in the process of organizing a student trip to Spain during fall break. Her mission is to not only teach our students but enrich their lives through the experiences that she brings to Ben Davis University High School.
EJ is a very dedicated and concerned team member. I value her professionalism and the care she has shown towards me as a colleague. Two school years ago, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. This school year, my father passed away suddenly in the fall. During both of these times of personal crisis, EJ was there for help and support, both professionally and emotionally. She incorporated my father’s passing into a class project, in which they created a video containing a series of short Spanish phrases with the English translations conveying their sympathies and condolences. It is another example of innovation in the classroom and teaching life lessons. It was very thoughtful and moving.
In closing, I believe EJ’s passion for education and her care of students is clearly evident by all of the great things listed above that she does for our school. Our school would not be the same without her; she would be nearly impossible to replace. Please strongly consider her for Teacher of the Year.
Daniel F. Jaisle
Ben Davis University High School
Social Studies – Economics and U.S. Government
1155 South High School Road
Indianapolis, IN 46241
From a Parent
To whom it may concern,
I am very pleased to write this letter of recommendation letter for Mrs. Jzar. She has taught four of my five children. I remember hearing about this teacher they were always talking about. How they would come home and speak words or funny phrases that I did not understand. They would tell how she taught using funny weird faces and crazy ways of showing them information. It appeared to me that they enjoyed learning the material. I enjoyed seeing my children wanting to learn, which was strange because they frequently said they disliked learning Spanish but loved learning in this class, which was Spanish!
I met Mrs. Jzar on several occasions at parent teacher conferences and graduations, she was kind and concerned for the well being of my children not only as students but also as people. I appreciated that very much. I am blessed that my children were able to attend BDU. The teachers are very caring and work very hard for the success of the students. If I were a jealous mom I would be sad that they call her their second mom, but I am glad they have her. She had made a difference in the their lives and in mine.
She will always be our teacher of the year.
Video of teaching
Reflection of Video
Being a student oriented teacher I enjoy showcasing their work. I had students create this video. I told them to capture what they felt was most important according to the guidelines set forth. Seeing oneself from the perspective of the students provides important feedback about what they feel is important to their learning. I do think they may have needed further clarification on some of the requirements for this video, but it was educational viewing their perspective. Reflecting, I do wish that I had selected a different lesson, one that was more visually appealing on camera, considering most of my magic happens virtually.
This video could have been stronger as it does not adequately convey what happening in the class. My classroom is flipped and as such much of the learning happens via videos and material I have created for them to learn at home or at their leisure. In class we work to clarify misunderstandings and identify what material may need further attention. Here, new vocabulary had been introduced and they were to have learned the vocabulary as well as how to pronounce it in order to earn Jzar Bucks which could later be used to buy items they could use on their upcoming projects.
As far as instruction is concerned, I may need to reconfigure how I administer the Jzar Bucks. I think that there needs to be more elaboration as they give the word requested of them. Perhaps I could offer additional Bucks if they use it in a sentence, but this group is not there yet. Perhaps this would be a viable addition for the future. I seem to lack levity when they earn their Bucks, I may want to add this in the future to encourage further participation. Also, I would prefer to include more student interactivity with the material on the board for the lesson. My concern with this is that they tend to lose focus and not listen to student in the spotlight because they are focused on getting the next question correct. When they do that, they lose the valuable instruction that comes from correcting mistakes and or another student discovering how to arrive at a viable answer using what they do know to figure out what they do not know.
Overall the lesson went as planned. In retrospect, I think that I will need to revamp this activity to make it more appealing to those entering the class without prior knowledge of the pre-work that has been done. I will also need to amplify my enthusiasm so that it is contagious with the students. It is easy to get into routine but students that are excited and engaged learn.I must be cognizant of that at all times.
To me Teaching is important because...
To me teaching is important because...
To me teaching is important because it is how we secure the future for the rest of humankind. Teachers share everything that makes them who they are, their education, their life lessons, and their experiences. This sharing of information ensures that the next generation will have the tools to become great thinkers, great problem solvers and most importantly great human beings. In a time where computers are raising children, teachers are an important part of giving these students balance and perspective. In the age of everything NOW, teachers show that patience and perseverance are crucial to success. Teaching is the art of showing students how to learn, how to think and how to use the information they have acquired to solve new problems.
To me teaching is important because it really does take a village to raise a child, and as teachers we are the village elders helping the youth discover their paths. I want to make the world a better place for all children and for all those whose lives they touch. I want to be productive and pay it forward. Teachers and teaching is the conduit to making these changes occur and ensuring that there will always be people prepared to continue paying it forward.