Ilianny Abad, who is currently a Spanish Immersion teacher in Milford School District knows firsthand how beneficial the Alternate Route to Certification program, a program designed to address the current teacher shortage, can be. Abad, who was born in Barahona, located in the Dominican Republic, always wanted to help others, but never thought she would do so as a teacher.
“I immigrated to the New York at the age of 10,” Abad said. “I was placed in an ESL classroom until I became proficient in English, meaning all classes were learned in Spanish except English. Due to my love for helping others, my initial career path started in human services.”
Abad graduated with an associate degree in human services and began working as a Family Service Worker for Telamon Head Start. She continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences from Wilmington University and then earned a master’s in human services.
“However, I always worked with children and families from birth to age five,” Abad said. “As I was growing, both educationally and professionally, I felt attracted to helping early learners and their families in school readiness, including learning English as a second language. In fact, I transitioned from Head Start and Child Development Watch to ECAP, where I had to do much more than just attend to the needs of young children and families through partnerships to enhance their head start in education. I was able to be in the classroom at various times as a substitute. I fell in love with making an impact in children’s education as well as discovering my true passion.”
A friend shared with Abad how she began her teaching career through the ARTC program at the University of Delaware. Since Abad held a bachelor’s and a master’s, she was able to obtain a position in Seaford School District as a World Language Teacher, teaching Spanish.
“My dream was always to teach in my hometown district,” Abad said. “This became true when I applied and was offered an open Spanish Immersion position at Milford School District. They encouraged me to pursue my master’s in education. This was how I was, thankfully, introduced to the Relay Graduate School of Education, who helped me grow in my career, granting me an emergency teacher certification while I pursued my master’s.”
Relay-ARTC offers evidence-based skills and fundamentals to be an effective educator, Abad explained. Throughout the two year program, Abad was able to build and grow, gaining her teaching skills while in the classroom. Abad had considered teaching prior to joining the Relay-ARTC program, but with five children, returning to school would be very difficult. Because ARTC allowed Abad to learn while she worked in the field, it was more convenient.
“The program and district provided me with a coaching team both in the program and in the school building to ensure the necessary support was received,” Abad said. “Moreover, the learning acquired throughout the time with Relay was relevant to my position, meaning it felt it was tailored to my path. For example, all that was learned in the courses, I actually used in the classroom, and I was able to implement strategies such as lesson planning and math concepts.”
Abad was provided certification courses that helped her pass the Praxis, something that is required before graduation. Relay also continually monitor and guide students according to the state requirements, Abad explained. That does not mean there were not challenges during the process, however.
“The biggest challenge is you as the student since you have to do the work and ensure you are meeting the requirements for the course,” Abad said. “My experience was very positive as I am used to multi-tasking. I used all that I did in the classroom toward my course’s completion. That would be my advice to shoes that enter the program. I think the lesson planning was the harder part for me once I got into the classroom since it was totally new for me. I needed to get acquainted with teaching pedagogy, but after I became familiar with lesson planning and curriculum pace, it became less hard and more routine.”
Being able to impact children on a personal level has been the biggest reward for Abad.
“As an educator, I get to teach them skills that they get to use in real life outside my classroom,” Abad said. “It is gratifying when my students share stories on our Talk Forum and share with others the importance of what they learned. Furthermore, educating is more than just academics. I get to shape their mindset toward a bright future. Since I teach in Spanish, I have many of my former students tell me how they have used the language to help others by translating for them. I am excited to see them when they go to high school.”
As for advice for others who wish to enter the teaching field through the ARTC program, Abad wants them to know they will be making an impact on every child that comes into the classroom.
“Entering the ARTC program granted me hands-on experience, with continuous support from Milford School District and Relay Graduate School of Education, which prepared me to become an effective culturally responsive educator,” Abad said. “My advice to potential candidates is to choose wisely among districts and ARTC programs as not all are as accommodating and supportive as Milford School District and Relay Graduate School of Education.”
For more information about the ARTC program, contact Dr. Jason Peel, Director of Human Resources and School Climate at 302-422-1600, Extension 212 or email [email protected]
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