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Spanish immersion teacher inspires kindergartners in Lawrence Township

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Señora Wanda Alamo-Diaz lives her life in two languages: Spanish and English.

She communicates with her family and friends in both tongues. She orders food bilingually and watches movies and TV sans subtitles. She also runs her classroom in “Español y Inglés.”

“Hola amigo!” calls a kindergartner in her class.

Señora Alamo-Diaz teaches some of the youngest learners in Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township. She teaches at Forest Glen Elementary in the Spanish language immersion program.

Jerome Omar Lahlou, principal at Forest Glen Elementary, explains the purpose of the immersion program is to provide an arena for native English and native Spanish students to work together and learn both languages simultaneously. Students begin elementary school learning in 80% Spanish and 20% English, progressing to full 50% Spanish 50% English (bilingual) lessons starting in the 4th grade. He says Señora Alamo-Diaz does an incredible job.

“She has a wonderful nurturing environment in her classroom. Kids love to be there,” said Omar Lahlou. “She strives to be a better version of herself as an educator each and every day.”

“I think she’s amazing. She has a lot of experience, patience and she loves what she does. She loves teaching,” added co-teacher Beatriz Escobosa, who nominated Señora Alamo-Diaz for the Golden Apple Award.

Patience and love are required for their positions. Señoras Alamo-Diaz and Escobosa manage 30 6-year-olds in two languages. About half of the students are native Spanish speakers. The others are not.

“She’s fun. She lets us dance. She lets us go outside,” said one student.

“I like counting to 100 in Spanish,” said another kindergartner.

“My dad speaks Spanish. She’s from Puerto Rico. My dad’s from Puerto Rico. They’re both from Puerto Rico. They both speak Spanish,” reasoned a third kindergartner.

Señora Alamo-Diaz was smiling, singing a rhyme to the students in Spanish when our WISH-TV Golden Apple team entered her classroom this month, cameras in hand, to present her this month’s Golden Apple Award.

“Surprised. But happy! It’s an honor. My kids are the best,” beamed Señora Alamo-Diaz.

Bailey and Wood Financial Group sponsors the Golden Apple Award. Bailey Wood, social media coordinator, presented the $500 check and golden trophy.

“It’s so obvious to tell that you’re so loved by your school district by your students and so many others, and we just want to give you a special thanks for all you do,” said Wood.

Señora Alamo-Diaz watched the full nomination video with tears in her eyes. The full video from WISH-TV videojournalist Alex Hadley is below.

“It’s a lot of emotions. I’m really proud of my district, my coworkers, and my principal,” said Señora Alamo-Diaz .

“Why did you decide to become a teacher?” asked Brenna Donnelly.

“Oh that’s a lot of years ago. But one day I started working by mistake in a school. I didn’t follow the position that I had started, but when I stayed with the kids I said, oh, this is wonderful, they are good, maybe my real vocation is to be a teacher. And I’m here now,” she said, to the applause of her coworkers and students.

Felicidades to Señora Alamo-Diaz!

To watch previous Golden Apple surprises, follow this link.

To nominate a central Indiana teacher for next month’s Golden Apple Award, submit the form here. Please be specific about why your teacher is making a difference.