We caught up with Leticia Ingram, the director of English language development at Basalt High School, who is wrapping up her year as Colorado’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. She shared her thoughts and observations from her time in the spotlight.
CP: What is the biggest challenge that you see educators facing today
LI: The biggest challenge is addressing issues of equity and ensuring all students reach their full potential. This is becoming more important because demographics are changing in our schools and students are coming with different backgrounds, different cultures, and different languages. We have to ensure that we have high expectations for all students.
CP: There is a lot in the news right now about homework (the amount, value of, and whether it should be given to kids). What are your thoughts on homework
LI: We need to have our focus on learning and not just extra busy work. If there is homework, it needs to be meaningful and relevant for the student. Homework should not take away from the family and extra activities that students enjoy outside of school.
CP: What is one thing you wish parents knew about what happens at school
LI: Parents need to realize how important their involvement is in school activities. I often hear parents say that their children don’t care if they come to their game or not—but yet children look in the stands to see if their mom or dad is there. It means a lot when children see their parents commit time to them and their education.
I also want parents to know how hard teachers work and the amount of time they commit to their children. My colleagues give up lunches, work weekends, and stay up late working on lessons and grading papers. Teachers truly do care about their students.
CP: What can parents do to get their children excited about learning
LI: Find out what your children love or what is important to them, and use those things to teach them. Expose your kids to new things through hands-on experiences, like getting involved with community projects. The important thing to remember is to go side-by-side with them, model for them and learn together. Kids can’t wait—especially when they”re young— to hang out with you. Use these experiences to teach them and show them different things. If you can get them excited about learning, and you embed this when they”re little, it”ll stick with them as adults. That’s what my mom did and I still love learning—it starts at a young age.
CP: As you look back over your year as Colorado’s Teacher of the Year, is there anything that has changed about your approach to, or ideas about, education because of this experience
LI: I have realized that there are a lot of challenges out there in education, but there are also a lot of answers when people come together around a common call of helping all students find success with school and with their future plans.