SONIC’s Limeades for Learning initiative makes a difference in public schools across the country through the brand’s partnership with nonprofit DonorsChoose, which the SONIC Foundation provides funding for throughout the year in support of public school teachers and the great projects they’re creating in the classroom. To share their innovative approaches to education, we’re spotlighting an educator each month to showcase the different ways they’re enriching their schools and communities.
Yazmin Gil is a Spanish and English dual-language kindergarten teacher who has been serving the Seattle, Washington community for 15 years. She cherishes each and every class, knowing just how quickly time flies with her young students. “I see how much my kindergartners gain within just a few months of school,” she says. “I know the impact I’m making on a daily basis.”
Keeping her students engaged and stimulated is Yazmin’s main priority when teaching. “I incorporate chants, poems, gestures, and visuals whenever possible to make learning fun and memorable,” she says. Another way is through teamwork. “I like to encourage students to support and help each other by assigning bilingual partners.” By putting Spanish and English speakers together to lead one another, both students improve their collaboration and social skills.
One of the most rewarding experiences for Yazmin is also the most bittersweet: watching her students leave her classroom as they grow. “From the first to last day of school, there’s a difference in my students. The last day is the most difficult day for me, but it’s also when I get to see my students confident and ready for first grade,” she says. “In fact, I recently watched my first two kindergarten classes graduate from high school.”
To continue creating an impact and preparing students for years of school, Yazmin advises other teachers to make self-care a priority. “Find your ‘911 person,’ someone who you can contact to celebrate, or reach out to for help.” Joining industry organizations is another way teachers can ensure they have the support they need. “The one that has kept me in the profession is Teachers of Color Leadership Community,” says Yazmin. “There, I’ve found inspiration and courage to pursue my master’s degree.”
Support from the larger community is also vital for classrooms. “As schools aim to be more inclusive, we’re in high need of the right tools to engage and support students with different needs – everything from flexible seating to creating a calming sensory area,” says Yazmin. “I like to share the community and corporate support we receive, no matter how small, with students and their families. It’s important especially for students to understand that they could support others one day, just like their community supported them.”
This story is part of an ongoing series.