Jessica Baldizon understands the superpower of speaking more than one language. She teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Cesar Batalla Elementary School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the second-largest preK thru 8 school in Connecticut. Her students include many immigrants and refugees from around the world.
Like many of her students’ parents, Jessica’s mother, father, and her maternal grandparents came to the U.S. as refugees; her family fled the war in Nicaragua in 1984. Jessica has first-hand experience as a cultural and language broker in her own family. Her background and experiences growing up have allowed Jessica to help her students hone this amazing asset as they help their family navigate new spaces.
Many of Jessica’s students come into school with worries and stresses that have to be addressed before teaching and learning can happen. Before all else, she focuses on helping her students feel a sense of security and belonging.
Jessica challenges the resource constraints of the status quo by leveraging technology and calling on community to ensure that her students have plenty of books to share with one another, uniform shirts that fit, and the pencils, pens and paint sets they need to create with and learn. Check out her Donors Choose page HERE (and link below) to see some of her current and past requests.
As we discuss, she is rarely idle – in addition to her daily teaching, Jessica leads both an active after-school program called HOPE club, as well as a summer writing camp, called Ubuntu Academy, through the Connecticut Writing Project with her fiancé, also a teacher in the Bridgeport school system.
It was no surprise to us to learn that Jessica received the 2022 Bridgeport Public Education Fund Inspiration Award for Outstanding Teaching earlier this year. Every day she is a difference-maker, preparing her students to create the world they want to live in.
Episode Links and Resources:
Connecticut Writer’s Program- Ubuntu Academy
“Where Language is No Barrier,” Sacred Heart University Magazine Feature About Jessica Baldizon
2022 Inspiration Award for Outstanding Teaching
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