English Language and Literacy Champions In and Out of the Classroom
Claudia Navarro has dedicated her life to inspiring students of all ages. Over the last 25 years, she has taught various subjects to elementary-, middle-, and high-school students.
Currently, Mrs. Navarro is a Developmental Language Teacher and the ESOL Coordinator & Compliance Liaison for Coral Gables Senior High School in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Supporting Beginning English Learners
Mrs. Navarro enjoys working with students as soon as they enter the country.
“I like to get them fresh so I can guide them,” she said. Known as newcomers, these students have no English language skills, and Mrs. Navarro uses Imagine Language & Literacy curriculum to give them a base to work from.
“I always push [Imagine Learning] because I know it works, and I know [my students] need it.”
“They need the phonics, they need the pronunciation and all those little components,” she said, and the program “gives them what they need.” Mrs. Navarro then builds on those skills in her lessons, and students are familiar with the parts of speech or vocabulary she covers because they saw it in Imagine Learning first.
In her classroom, Mrs. Navarro focuses on building language skills step-by-step. She said that everyone’s early literacy skills improved with Imagine Learning, which is why she has been happy to incorporate it into her classroom for years.
But she teaches her students more than just language skills. As newcomers, these students “need to learn everything from the language to customs to a new way of living,” and often don’t have parental or family support.
To help, she accepts late assignments and provides flexibility in her classroom. “I am not here to step on them or pressure them because they didn’t do the work. I am here to help them learn,” she said.
Learning from Home
Since most students were learning from home in the 2020–2021 school year, Mrs. Navarro couldn’t sit side-by-side with students to work through concepts and learning challenges. Instead, she’s learned to lean on multiple forms of communication to help students stay on track, often meeting with them via webcam or phone.
Keeping students motivated and learning takes more than self-discipline, especially when learning a new language in a new country, so at the beginning of the year, Mrs. Navarro took the time to call and speak with families.
“I make them feel comfortable and tell them about the class and that I am here to help,” she said. By supporting her students both inside and outside the classroom, Mrs. Navarro has pushed her students to win the 2021 Imagine Literacy Bowl.
Language & Literacy Champions!
When the 2021 Imagine Literacy Bowl was announced, students were motivated to spend more time working in Imagine Language & Literacy, even with the challenge of learning from home. With each monthly bracket update, Mrs. Navarro and her students began to see their slow climb to success.
“I always push the program because I know it works and I know they need it,” said Mrs. Navarro, and she used the contest as added encouragement in the final rounds.
“[Winning] leaves me speechless,” she said, “because I’ve tried so hard and I thought they weren’t doing enough.”
Inspiring Success after ESOL
Through tear-filled eyes, Mrs. Navarro explains that her biggest hope for students is that they can go on and achieve their own success in this world. She said, “Investing in them and being a part of their lives is so important,” because for some students, a school can be more than a campus, and a teacher’s role is to inspire them to want to learn and grow.
With her many relationships with former students, it’s easy to see that Mrs. Navarro has really made an impact on her students, and she holds a place in her heart for each of them.
What is the most rewarding part of her job? Completing recommendation letters for students going to college. Knowing that she helped students become the adults they wanted to be keeps Mrs. Navarro motivated to inspire the next group of beginning English learners in her classroom.