Celebrating: Alethea Maldonado

What drew you to your current position?

As I began my teaching career, I became more aware of the English Learner (EL) population in our public schools, and I wanted to work with this population of students because I believed I could help this unique population of students with the way I like to design and breakdown content for my students.

As I was looking for a job after graduation, I was blessed to be given a position working with the EL population. It was soon after my first 6-weeks of teaching, I adopted more ESL classes. Working with my Multilingual Writers opened my mind and heart to this special population of students. I credit my ESOL I students for helping me survive and enjoy my first year of teaching. They were so gracious and patient with me, and these amazing students helped me embrace and explore my Latino roots and identity alongside them.

And each year, I continue to work with our Multilingual Writers, and I love every moment with them. I learn so much from who they are and the choices they make in learning and language. They continue to teach me about who I am and strengthen my craft and dedication as their teacher.

How do you use writing or art in your life?

From an early age, I have always loved writing. My parents bought me journals growing up, and I believe my love for writing began there. When I look back on these journals, I found myself writing poems, drawing pictures, writing prayers, collecting the everyday happenings and thoughts from being a child full of wonder to an adolescent pondering my existence.

Even to this day, I keep several Writer’s Notebooks and still write as I did growing up. Thanks to the Heart of Texas Writing Project (HoTWP), this amazing group of educators I am fortunate to work with, I have opened up my writing even more through exploring mentor texts, embracing existing literacies, trying different writing strategies, and just putting myself through the Writer’s Workshop to get at the heart of one’s own writing. 

What’s even greater is that I get to continue to explore and support my wonderful Multilingual Writers find their voice in writing.

What lessons and/or teachings from your family, home and/or community do you draw on in your teaching – or the work you do in schools? 

I found the most important part of my classroom is establishing a welcoming and safe community that is built around sharing memories, languages, cultures, and traditions. When I think of community, I think of the communities that are my family: the Juarez’ and Maldonados. These were communities that celebrated all aspects of life: birthdays, quinceaneras, anniversaries, all holidays, finding a job, bringing home a novio/a, but just any moment that could bring us together.

And in these communities, I found a place I could just be myself: play in the streets, cry about a broken heart, be mad at my prima but then make up, dance the electric slide, break bread, sit in my mamaw’s lap as she watched Price is Right, give my papaw a pico and a warm abrazo, talking from my heart with my tias, and overhearing the philosophizing of my tios.

So much of who I am comes directly from that loving space, and I strive to preserve a space like that for my students.

What would you tell your younger self? 

The thing that others may find “weird” or “odd” about you is the thing that is the most important to protect and express.

What do you want the world to know?

I just want the world to know that it’s necessary that we continue to be kind, patient, and open-minded with ourselves and one another. That it’s okay to lead with your heart.

Something else you want to share?

Preserve the communities you are a part of and look for communities that lift you up and encourage you to be brave.





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