PANTHERS OF ISKL #17 - ARACELI - THE IMPASSIONED EDUCATOR
Today we catch up with Araceli Arismendi, a Grade 1 teacher who has been working at ISKL for the past eight years! Araceli, who originally comes from Houston, Texas, was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the new Grade 1 sensory path earlier this semester. She came to ISKL together with her husband, Jorge Arismendi, an ES Spanish teacher also at ISKL and son who attends Prep-Reception. Here is her story.
'Inside my classroom, I feel challenged, humbled, creative, and vulnerable all in a single day. My students and colleagues inspire me, and I feel very grateful to wake up each morning and do my job the best that I can.
'I have been working in Grade 1 here at ISKL for eight years and have been a team leader for the past three.
'Being a Grade 1 teacher can be very challenging and very rewarding all at the same time. We are juggling different roles like being a teacher of all subject areas, counselor, coach, mentor, all while trying to maintain calmness, peace, and balance.
‘Especially during the first months of school, Grade 1 teachers are mentally and physically exhausted, but at the end of the year, our hard work pays off. Our innocent 6-7-year-olds are maturing, problem-solving, making friends, and growing up ready to tackle 2nd grade. Our students leave Grade 1 as readers, authors, mathematicians, scientists, and Eco-Warriors!”
‘I begin my day welcoming my students in morning meetings. We dance, sing, talk about feelings and their concerns. We also read, write, solve math problems, and investigate science/community topics.
'Educating my students to be global citizens, along with taking care of the environment, others, and having gratitude are all concepts that I try to instill in our community. We set expectations and goals for ourselves and try to meet them.
‘We have bad days and good days, but we come in every morning with a fresh start. I am always proud of the work our first graders do, and it amazes me where they start and where they finish.
'We just completed our Grade 1 Sensory Path earlier this year thanks to the Inspiration Fund.
‘We needed to convert our bare hallway next to our common area into a space where kids can go out and MOVE their bodies.
‘We added plants to create a jungle space that our students water daily, and whenever they need a brain break, our students go out there and get their wiggles out! Being outside is a treasure, and first graders are lucky to step right out their doors to breathe and get their heart rate up!
‘I do what I do because of the people who inspire me. My parents, my husband, my son, and my students all motivate me to be a better teacher, friend, and person.
‘My mom encouraged me to be a teacher as she was a successful retired educator who loved and cared about her students.
‘My dad is a natural-born leader - he inspires me to lead with a humble heart, fairness, and social justice.
‘My husband inspires me to think about others, be kind to all living things, and to be grateful.
‘My son inspires me to stay young, and he teaches me to laugh at the small things, play with legos, and run and jump like a rock star.
‘My family gives me ENERGY.
‘Last but not least, my students' ideas, creativity, emotions, and conversations help me grow as a teacher, and there is never a dull moment in our classroom community.
'I have so many good memories here at ISKL like the International Festival, all the cultural days, learning celebrations with families, students' successes, and bringing my parents to the ISKL campus. The last memory I have this year was attending the first day of school with my son, who is in the Prep Reception program.
'We are so blessed to be a part of a community that genuinely cares about their faculty, staff, families, and, most importantly, our students. I honestly feel that I landed the jackpot to be a part of this learning community where we grow, learn from our mistakes, take risks, and keep moving forward with courage and bravery.
What does Be All You Are mean to you?
“To me, it means to teach with all my heart and give my 100 percent to my students and teammates. When I enter ISKL, I know that I will put my best foot forward, support my students every step of the way, challenge their thinking, and provide for them a learning experience.”