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School of Education: Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

Congratulations Maribel Pérez

The School of Education is proud to recognize Maribel Pérez as a California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) Recipient of a 2017 Teachership Award and Scholarship for $2,500.

Maribel was nominated for this award by Dr. Ana Hernández, an Associate Professor of Multilingual and Multicultural Education and Coordinator of the Bilingual Authorization Program, Dual Language Certificate, and Multicultural Specialist Certificate in the School of Education. Dr Hernández, stated in her letter of recommendation:

Maribel is one of the top teacher candidates in the Single Subject Credential and Bilingual Authorization Programs at CA State University San Marcos (Hispanic-Serving Institution). In 2013, Maribel completed her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Justice Studies with a minor in Spanish with a GPA: 3.9. She received the academic level of distinction “Summa Cum Laude”.


Maribel was born in Querétaro, México and came to the USA as an immigrant at the age of 17.  Although she had been admitted at a university in Mexico, she was forced to repeat high school in the USA. She worked extremely hard in school as an English learner, but was also determined to maintain her academic Spanish skills, even though her native language was not recognized as an asset in her American school. This experience made her realize the importance of being highly proficient in the native language in order to linguistically gain academic proficiency in a second language. She advocates for English learners and advices students to complete their high school credits and pursue a college pathway. Maribel stated in one of her writings that being a bilingual teacher allows one the opportunity to make a difference. 

Maribel has a wealth of experiences teaching diverse students in communities impacted by poverty, racism, and social injustices.  She is currently working with a predominately Hispanic-migrant population in her bilingual clinical practice in North San Diego County. She is responsible for assisting with the instructional planning and prepares daily lessons in Spanish and for English Language Development (ELD).  She has received training in various co-teaching approaches to seamlessly collaborate with her cooperating teachers.  On Saturdays, Maribel works at the Fallbrook Extended Learning Academy as a science instructor for English learners. She is responsible for teaching, lesson planning, and arranges field trips. Previously, Maribel was an English Language Development Tutor in Algebra, Geometry, English, and Spanish. For three years (2013-2016), she tutored small groups of “at risk” students in AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) at Fallbrook High School. She also had an internship at the Hayward Child Development Center where she worked with children from 18 months to 5 years of age, who were at risk of child abuse or neglect. These types of experiences with culturally/linguistically diverse students and “at risk” children motivate and inspire Maribel every day.

Maribel’s lesson plans for English learners are exceptional and celebrated by her professors and peers.  Maribel ties formative assessments to her lessons plans to inform practices and differentiates instruction by proficiency levels.  She understands the issues of social justice and equity facing our classrooms today, particularly in accelerating the success of English learners in the Common Core State Standards in ELD instruction. In her Spanish courses, Maribel knows how to teach second language learners in acquiring rigorous skills through scaffolding strategies, while at the same time maintaining the content and language demands of the objectives. In addition, she maintains a positive and professional disposition with peers and faculty throughout her courses and clinical practice.

As a teacher candidate in the Bilingual Authorization Program, Maribel has taken the lead in working collaboratively with teacher candidates from the Universidad Autónoma de Tijuana, Baja CA, Mexico.  Part of her responsibilities in the program is to participate in a Global Learning Networks Project, Knowing Our Students, Knowing Ourselves (KOSKO) thorough the Orillas-iEARN Organization (International Education and Resource Network).  In this project, Maribel communicates on transnational issues pertaining immigrant students/children with future teachers from Mexico.

Maribel is not only a dedicated and outstanding bilingual teacher candidate in all aspects of her scholarly work, but she has a genuine interest in becoming a bilingual teacher that is committed to the education of linguistically and culturally diverse students.  Maribel is an excellent candidate for this honorable award.  She has an excellent bilingual background: speaks, reads and writes at distinguished levels of proficiency in both of her languages. She has worked with diverse populations of students in local schools/community. Her future aspirations are to make a difference by transforming deficit oriented ideologies in education to dynamic multilingual experiences in schooling. I would like to end this letter with a quote from Maribel, “Me alegra que haya sido aprobada la Proposición 58, ya que es un gran paso para brindarle una mejor educación a nuestros estudiantes bilingües y para erradicar de una vez la estigmatización de las lenguas minoritarias en los Estados Unidos.”

Maribel stated:

My commitment to become a bilingual teacher started 11 years ago, when I was an English Learner confronted by the reality of discrimination. A specific incident that demonstrated how English learners and bilingual students were not valued in school was when my high school counselor told me, “You cannot go to college, because you do not speak English.” This particular incident made me more aware and observant about the way bilingual students are still treated in public schools. In general, their primary languages are sometimes not recognized as an asset, but are rather seen as a deficit. Research shows that when students perceive that their native language is considered subordinate to the English language, they feel dehumanized, and this affects their academic performance and their self-esteem (Reyes, 2010). For this reason, I want to become a bilingual teacher in order to change the negative perception of bilingual students. First of all, I want bilingual students to feel valued. Secondly, I want to demonstrate to others that they are intelligent, and bring a wealth of assets to the classroom, including cultural richness, respect for others, perseverance, strength, arduous work, and determination. As a bilingual teacher, I want my students to be recognized and highly valued in school, instead of being disregarded or ignored.

One of my goals as a bilingual teacher is to defend the rights of students and parents, whose voices are often silenced. Recently, I interviewed Salvador and Adelina, parents of a bilingual student. I learned that these parents felt ignored by the school, and did not have the courage to advocate for their rights, since they believed they would be misjudged for not speaking English. Hence, being a bilingual teacher, I can defend the rights of parents who do not speak English. I want to advocate and support their opinions, as well as educate their children. In addition, I desire to be a bilingual teacher, because I want to also defend the rights of bilingual students and ensure that they receive a high quality education in both languages. I want my bilingual students to be respected, and not be misjudged by a teacher for not bringing a pencil to class, due to lack of economic resources for school supplies. Furthermore, I want my students to feel safe while learning in school. I do not want them to feel rejected, and labeled as unruly citizens due to their appearance or manner in which they dress. I want my students to believe that someone sees their potential and truly cares about them.

It is important to have bilingual education programs in California and the rest of the United States. According to the California Department of Education (2015-2016), there are “1.374 million English learners in California public schools.”  As a result, English learners or bilingual students comprise a significant number of the total California enrollment, and for this reason the learning needs of these students should be met. My commitment as a bilingual teacher is to provide my students an equitable education by using bilingual teaching strategies that draw from previous knowledge obtained in their languages and cultures. For example, a specific instructional strategy that I find to be particularly useful when teaching bilingual students is called “bridging,” or transferring knowledge from one language to another. This biliteracy strategy has three parts, "Spanish (or one of the two languages) instruction, the Bridge (both languages side by side), and English or the other language) instruction" (Beeman & Urow, 2013, p. 4). An example of a lesson in which I have implemented this strategy was during a preterit tense lesson in my Spanish Speakers II class, in which bilingual students were writing three paragraphs using Spanish and English. For this unit, I taught my students in English how to state a claim and how to defend it, through the use of examples, and to explain its significance. I decided to teach this part of the lesson in English, because my students had already learned to use this format in their English classes, and I just wanted them to transfer their previous knowledge to the Spanish language. Once students had accessed their prior knowledge, I used English and Spanish for the “bridging - side by side” to teach them the academic vocabulary in Spanish for the parts of the paragraph. For example, I taught them that an assertion is an “aseveración” in Spanish. After establishing this notion between languages, I continued the lesson completely in Spanish to continue developing their acquisition of the language. Strategies, such as bridging, help bilingual students to advance academically in their acquisition of their maternal language and English. Being a bilingual teacher, not only gives me the opportunity to support my students academically, but it enables me to teach them about their history and culture. Many students do not have a clear identity, and feel ashamed for being people of color; they disregard their rich indigenous heritage. Unfortunately, they have negative perceptions of indigenous people, because they have never learned at school about their own history. Bilingual students have rich backgrounds and bring valuable funds of knowledge. This is the population I want to work with as a bilingual teacher!

Maribel Perez 2017 CABE Teachership Award