An active participant in the UNC Greensboro School of Education’s EnACTeD (Engaging and Advancing Community-Centered Teacher Development), and now IGNITE (Innovation to Grow, Nurture, and Inspire Teachers of English-Learners) programs, Jhonatan Marin Mesa was recently honored as the Guilford County Schools (GCS) Teacher of the Year.
Marin Mesa’s journey to teaching Spanish to first-grade students as part of Hunter Elementary’s Dual Language Program began in his native Colombia and the field of education was one he stumbled into.
He said, “I am a teacher by accident. I just loved English when I was in high school. Then I started studying it in an English academy. When I finished my studies at the English academy, my friends and family asked me to explain English topics for them several times. I noticed I was good at explaining and I decided to give education a try. I ended up loving it.”
After spending five years teaching in Fayetteville, N.C., Marin Mesa began teaching at Hunter Elementary as part of the GCS Dual Language Initiative. This program sees students immersed into either Spanish or Urdu by spending half of their class time being instructed only in that language.
Earning the teacher of the year accolade was rewarding for Marin Mesa who said, “I was really honored, humbled, and shocked. It means a huge accomplishment, a dream come true, a satisfaction to make my mom and family proud, a reward for all the efforts I do as a teacher, and the huge responsibility to represent not only GCS, but also my country and all the Hispanic and Latino communities that are part of our school communities.”
Marin Mesa’s participation in EnACTeD and IGNITE has helped shape who he currently is as a teacher.
He said, “UNCG … have shaped my way to become a more reflective educator. I have learned how to be more culturally and linguistically responsive with my kids, how to insert some technological practices in my lessons, and how to better approach my dual language families by opening and sustaining strong collaboration and engagement channels.”
Marin Mesa continued, “What I really like about UNCG is their orientation to give back to the communities. They really fulfill the essence of every educational institution. They promote a transformational mindset in both their employees and the people they impact with their programs.”
EnACTeD offers professional development to teachers, prepares preservice and inservice teachers to obtain ESL/DL licensure, and prepares all participants in our programs to work with ESL and their families through community-engaged activities.
Project Ignite provides tuition support and professional learning opportunities for in-service and preservice teachers teaching in North Carolina or seeking N.C. teaching licensure to support equitable instruction for English learners and their families.