Yehimi Cambrón is ready to make a difference. That is why the 23-year-old is taking a two-year hiatus to teach at a bilingual elementary school in Forest Park.
Cambrón, who is originally from Mexico, is one of 600 Latino professionals who joined the public school system this year to provide a more comprehensive education to children from kindergarten to eighth grade.
The 2014 Agnes Scott College graduate was hired in March by Teach for America, a non-profit organization that recruits students from all over the country to teach for a period of two years in low income areas. And last month she was assigned to Unidos Dual Language Charter School in Forest Park.
She’ll teach Spanish to a fifth grade class of 21 students, the majority of whom are African-American. Less than half are Latinos.
“I’m very excited to work as a teacher. We’re dedicating the first weeks to teaching the students the rules and procedures of the school. I made questionnaires to get to know them better: where they come from, what music they listen to, what they like to read, how they like to learn, etc. I have to adapt to them in order to be able to teach them,” said Cambrón.
Unidos Dual Language Charter School was founded a decade ago by Dell Giles, with the assistance of its current principal, Nancy Said.
“Dell Giles was an English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher, and he believed that a bilingual education offered greater benefits than education in a single language,” said Gabriel Zaragoza, a coordinator for the school.
Students who attend Unidos Dual Language Charter School learn English and Spanish at the same time as a regular curriculum at a public school, which includes reading, mathematics, science and social studies. Of the 800 children enrolled, 40 percent are Latinos, said Zaragoza.
The 600 new Latino teachers recruited this year are committed to providing the best education to their students, said DeLano Ford, executive director of Teach For America-Metro Atlanta.
“Yehimi, who grew up here in Atlanta and faced the same challenges as her students, is working together with other dedicated educators in our schools in order to help all students realize their maximum potential,” said Ford. “
“Yehimi has the energy we need. I was impressed by her personality, kindness and above all, the fact that she was a writer in college. It’s important that our students know how to write at top levels and can describe and explain their opinions,” said Zaragoza.
Students and parents have already taken a shine to Cambrón.
“What I like most about [Yehimi] is that if someone doesn’t understand the lesson she goes back and repeats it until everyone understands it. And I like that she isn’t like other teachers; she uses games to teach us and we learn better that way,” said 10-year-old Yovana Santos García
García’s mother, María del Rocío Olaguna García, is pleased that the new teacher is comforting.
“ When I met her at the open house and she told me she came [to the US] through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), I was so excited and happy for her,” saidd Olaguna García.
Tthis new chapter of her life is an opportunity to continue learning about and fighting for students’ rights, said Cambrón.
“It’s not about me, but rather those who are coming and those who have not yet benefited from DACA. There are still a lot of people who need us to fight for them,” she added.
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CONTINUED COVERAGEEach Saturday look for a feature story from our media partners at Mundo Hispanico that highlights an aspect of the Hispanic community. For a closer look at its content, go to www.mundohispanico.com or contact editors and reporters directly at 404-881-0441.