Ana and Adriana sitting down on a step with their diplomas

Bethel Educators fall in love with giving back; Earn master’s degrees in the process

In addition to all of the Bethel student graduates who made their way across the stage over the last couple of weeks, some amazing Bethel staff members have also recently graduated from various programs.

Ana DeLapaz and Adrianna Alvarez – both English Language Development (ELD) teachers in Bethel – received their master’s degrees in education this spring from Pacific University and the University of Oregon, respectively.

The two educators have been working in Bethel since 2013 when they started as part-time educational assistants working 2 hours per day in the same ELD classroom. Earlier this month, they graduated with their master’s degrees and will continue to serve in the Bethel District as ELD teachers next year.

Falling in love with their jobs

In a recent interview, the two talked about unexpectedly falling in love with their jobs in Bethel and how they were driven to learn and do more for their students.

“At the beginning I just wanted a job to be honest,” Ana said with a laugh. “But I fell in love with it and realized that I wanted to become a better teacher for my students and have more knowledge and tools to be able to help and support them.”

Adriana also had no intention of becoming full-time educator and was in fact on the path to become an immigration lawyer – but then she started working as an EA.

“I fell in love with both the kids and being able to connect with families and help students,” she said.

Connecting with families 

The two educators also expressed that part of what draws them to their jobs is that they’re able to relate to students and their struggles.

Ana moved to Oregon when she was just six years old and was an ELD student. She said she’s able to connect with her students because she also understands what it’s like to be in their shoes.

“When the students come to our classroom they’re able to relate to myself and my culture, I bring their culture into what I do and they feel welcomed in the classroom,” Ana said. “They always tell us that they don’t want to graduate ELD and leave our classrooms, but I know they’re going to go on to accomplish great things.”

Adriana said that connecting with families is part of what drives her as an educator.

“I love it because I see myself in them,” she said. “I can connect with their home life because I lived it, too. I can relate to them.”

She also said that her students’ positive experiences in ELD, as well as their success, is what drives her passion.

“The positive outcomes that we see in ELD is absolutely what drives me,” she said. “Seeing them get good grades or just being able to provide them with a voice or be there for them … Just seeing how much they’ve grown is amazing.”

Lucky for Bethel, both Adriana and Ana have accepted full-time ELD positions in the district this fall and will be returning.

“I love Bethel,” Adriana said “I came through bethel myself, from 4th grade until sophomore year, and now I’m coming full circle and will be the full-time ELD teacher at Cascade. It’s just amazing.”