13:40 PM

Speaking up

STC Alumna leads her school’s only bilingual kindergarten classroom

In 2009, Britzia Jasso returned to the United States from Monterrey to attend Sharyland High School. She was still learning English but that hurdle didn’t slow her down.

Her early life shaped her identity and the educational path she chose followed right behind.

“I went to Monterrey to live with my mom because my dad passed away,” Jasso said. “So I had to grow up in Monterrey. I consider myself Mexican. When I came here, in 2009, I was 14 years old and my English was not very great. I knew some of it, I knew how to read, but I wasn't very fluent.”

That wasn’t a problem for long.

Ten school years later Jasso not only knows English fluently, she is sharing the ability to learn languages as the only bilingual kindergarten teacher at her campus, Pearson Elementary at Mission CISD.

“My kids are getting a foundation with their native language because they need to have their native language pretty strong in order for them to acquire a second one,” Jasso said. “Everything that you learned in English, you'll be able to transfer to Spanish and vice versa.”

Jasso’s first college credit hours came from STC when she was still a Sharyland Rattler in high school. Thanks to some friendly faces, it is also where she began higher education.

“I decided to go with STC because they were really nice to me,” she said. “When I tried to go to elsewhere they wouldn't help me out. At STC everybody's helpful. Also I had a lot of friends who were there and it was going to be more affordable for me to attend.”

The price point of South Texas College helped Jasso advance quicker. With an affordable education, combined with her federal financial aid she put her leftover funds to good use.

“Every semester I would save what I had left and I would use it for summer classes,” Jasso said.So during the summer I would take more classes because I wanted to finish.”

Her journey from an English as a second language (ESL) student, to bilingual educator was spring boarded at South Texas College. She credits instructors like STC’s David Moyle who she had for multiple English classes for growing her language proficiency.

She earned her Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) at STC before receiving a bachelors from Texas A&M University – Kingsville.

STC education department chair Rene Zuniga explained how the AAT program has the ability to elevate the entire region.

“I wanted to help out students that were in my same position, I wanted to help them grow and learn that language,” she said. “I know how it feels and that's why I decided to do bilingual education.”
STC alumna Britzia Jasso

The AAT program introduces students to the teaching profession by choosing between elementary, middle school and high school curricula tracks. Students in the program are also required to take both Intro to Teaching and Introduction to Special Population courses while conducting field observations of classrooms in the area.

“Not only does it improve the student's quality of life but at the same time the students are able to, with their skills, improve other students’ quality of life and the community quality of life.” Zuniga said.

Melissa Davis, who serves as Jasso’s principal at Pearson, explained that her interview was proof that she could handle a demographic with plenty of Spanish-speakers.

She assigned Jasso to a kindergarten classroom after the young teacher spent her first years at the third-grade level.

“One of the interview questions was in Spanish and right away it was very noticeable that she was extremely fluent in Spanish,” Davis said. “She could speak it and she could write it. It’s very important when our kids are learning about dual language-they need to have it said correctly and written correctly when they learn. Kids who are dual language do have the upper hand.”

Zuniga mentions students looking to follow the path from STC to institutions like TAMUK and other universities are welcomed.

“We encourage our students to not stop with an associates but keep on going,” Zuniga said. “And that's why we are always consistently working with universities, so that our students have some options after they finish the AAT.”

Good grades in Kingsville during Jasso’s undergraduate classes turned into a scholarship that helped her decide to pursue a Master’s Degree in Bilingual Education which she will receive this December.

Education was the focus for Jasso once she returned to the United States and now she is giving her students a head start in a bilingual, bicultural region.

“I wanted to help out students that were in my same position, I wanted to help them grow and learn that language,” she said. “I know how it feels and that's why I decided to do bilingual education.”