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SAISD principal and teacher awarded for dual language accomplishments
Oct. 27, 2020 – A San Antonio ISD principal and teacher have been recognized by Education Service Center, Region 20 (ESC-20) for their achievements in dual language education. Brackenridge High School Principal Yesenia Cordova has been named the World Languages Administrator of the Year, and Neal Elementary School fifth-grade dual language educator Alba Avila has been named the 2020 Bilingual Teacher of the Year. 

“On behalf of ESC-20, we applaud Ms. Cordova and Ms. Avila for serving the students of SAISD with great passion and commitment,” said Dr. Jeff Goldhorn, ESC-20 executive director. “While working with their bilingual communities, they find opportunities to make meaningful connections, while removing barriers and clearing the path toward student success.”

Both Cordova and Avila work at one of SAISD’s dual language campuses. Currently, 50 campuses – more than half of all SAISD schools – include a dual language component. 
Cordova was selected for the administrator award based on her leadership achievements in education. She led the Brackenridge team in a pilot of SAISD’s first dual language program at the high school level in the 2018-2019 school year to positive results. Based on this pilot, other SAISD high schools including Lanier, Edison, and CAST Med now offer dual language education to secondary level students. Additionally, Cordova continues to share her own dual-language journey with Brackenridge families so that they feel understood and come to realize there are possibilities, not just limitations, to learning.  

“We worked really hard and we truly believe that we offer equity for all students,” said Cordova. “When they offered us an opportunity to pilot a dual language education at Brackenridge, I jumped on it because I felt this was an opportunity that many kids don’t have. The most exciting part about the whole program is I see our kids flourish, learn and grow; if we believe in them, they are going to believe in themselves.”

Avila was selected for the bilingual teacher award for her outstanding teaching. Avila – like Cordova – also shares her experience growing up as a bilingual student with her students at Neal Elementary School. This has led her to be purposeful about teaching and has shaped how she approaches connecting students with their community. She wants to ensure her classes are helpful experiences where students are unafraid of being wrong or asking for help. 

Additionally, Avila previously began an ethnomathematics club when her previous campus in the District partnered with UTSA. She continues to incorporate these lessons at Neal to encourage students toward academic success and to give them a sense of belonging for their language, culture, and customs. 

“This award gives me the confidence to know that teaching through a culturally responsive lens is valuable to the education community,” Avila said. “It should give confidence to those educators in Texas that teach beyond math, science, social studies, and literacy, and dig deeper to connect lessons to the interests and knowledge of students and their communities – they are on the right path.”

Both Cordova and Avila will be recognized further during the 2020 ESC-20 World Language Virtual Conference, which will be held Dec. 5. 

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