Teacher leaves lasting impact on students, parents

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Teaching is a passion for Alma Gutierrez. She worked hard to make it all possible, because in the seventh grade she did not speak English at all.

She learned English in the seventh and eighth grade with the help of her English Language Learner teachers.

"I remember showing up the first day of school with my binder and kids trying to talk to me, but I didn't understand anything," Alma said. "I just remember going to the regular classroom and being part of the lesson."

Now she's working to help a diverse group of students.

"We have a big population of students that are minority and about a quarter of our students that are English second language learners and all of them work very hard," Dodge Elementary School Principal Carrie Kolar said.

Alma is a third grade teacher now, but when she was teaching the fifth grade, she had to help a few students with their English.

"Not newcomers, they had enough English," Alma said. "I always took the time and explained things in Spanish and then have conversations with them and just clarifying and making sure they get the content."

The principal said Alma is a great asset to the school.

"I was very proud that we could hire her and have her here," Carrie said. "She loves to build positive relationships and she made great connections with families."

Alma encourages parents to practice both languages with their students, not just English.

"In the parents mind, it's important for their kids to learn the English language to be able to be successful living in this country, but I always tell them you know, they have so much opportunity maintaining their home language," Alma said.

Alma adds she is proud to be where she's at in life and she's always trying to help as many parents and students as possible.