Julianna Catena – Mustangs Ahead
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – A nomination for the “Excellence in Education Award” (EEA) is an honor for any school employee. The Manatee School District has named LRHS English as a Second Language (ESOL) teacher aide Maria Musselman as the school’s Support Site Nominee.
The Manatee School District described Musselman in its nomination criteria –
- Extends herself beyond basic required duties by displaying initiative and creativity.
- Contributes to the students, school and district she serves in the following manner:
- Enhances student learning through participation in literacy-based activities.
- Creates positive relationships with parents, students, coworkers and community members.
- Makes schools safer, healthier and more attractive.
- Earns respect and admiration of colleagues and the community.
- Demonstrates exceptional skill and dedication on the job.
- Displays exemplary leadership abilities through active participation in school or district and community activities and/or by making decisions and delegating effectively and diplomatically.
- Utilizes in-service and/or training to consistently improve and develop skills.
- Demonstrates exemplary interpersonal skills in communicating with students, families and community members, as well as collaboration with professionals.
Mustangs Ahead (MA): What is an ESOL teacher aide? Why did you want to become one?
Musselman: I assist all of the students that are learning English and come from another country. My job is not only to assist a teacher, but also to assist a student and do all of the paper work to be in compliance with the department of education expects from us. I wanted to become one because I was born in Colombia and was amazed by other cultures and I was always curious about other people everywhere when I was growing up. Years ago, I wanted to go to a University and study for translations and prepare myself and be a part of knowledge in government and be a translator for chancellors and ambassadors. That existed years ago, it doesn’t exist so much anymore. I also wanted to travel to the United States and study other countries. I came here as an exchange student, fell in love with an American, got married, worked in Michigan as a Spanish and Latin teacher, and down here I was hired at Lakewood 13 years ago to work with the ESOL students. So that’s why I do what I do, and I love my students and my job!
MA: So, are you bilingual?
Musselman: I speak Spanish, it is my first language, and of course, English.
MA: What does this achievement mean to you?
Musselman: I actually feel very humble and thankful because everyone does their jobs, I do my job, and it’s like thank you very much! I feel so humble!
MA: What do you like about your job?
Musselman: My students! They enrich my life. They have so much knowledge about many different things and they share their experiences with me. They are just remarkable strong people and I admire them while I learn from them.
MA: How long have you been doing your job?
Musselman: In the ESOL department, it is the start if 13 years so I have completed 12 here at Lakewood.
MA: Overall thoughts on ESOL education?
Musselman: My overall thought is that though we try to be really good to the kids, with all the programs and things that are being implemented, I believe that we need to put a little bit more of the heart into things, and it’s not everyone. Of course, we always acquire everything from the brain first, but if we don’t apply the heart to it, sometimes it’s not enough. I feel that I will always have my students remember how I made them feel, they might not necessarily remember what I taught them in history while I’m teaching them English, but they will always remember how I made them feel. So, it is important to add that into what we’re doing for them. We also give them math and science and history which is very important as well.
MA: Do you face any challenges?
Musselman: Not necessarily for me, but I tend to be sad and blame myself if a student is not going to graduate or not accomplish what I feel they could, because they are smart enough, then it’s sad. I want to motivate them enough that they want to learn and graduate.