Supporting Educational Equity – Marion Escoto

Marion Escoto,’18, M.A.T., teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) at Parkside Elementary School (in Wake County) and was named Teacher of the Year at her school. She has also been a mentor to an M.A. in Teaching (M.A.T.) student at Meredith who was studying to become an ESL teacher.

“Teaching is my purpose. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was six years old. I absolutely love working with children. They are so amazing – I learn so much from them. I can be the silly teacher and they just smile and laugh. I wanted to make a difference and what better way than to inspire and lead young children into becoming whatever they want to be? 

I believe in educational equity. I want to make sure that each one of my students – and all students – receive what they need to grow academically and socially. When I was an early preschool teacher I had students in my classroom who did not speak English. They were so scared because they could not understand me verbally and did not know what was happening. The only way I could comfort them was by holding their hand or singing to them. I remember thinking how helpless I felt and wishing I knew how to support them. I knew that being an ESL teacher was the perfect opportunity for me to become what they needed. 

My teaching philosophy is relationships before content. I make connections with all students (not just ESL students), teachers, and families at Parkside. Getting to know my students in a fun way is so important as well as letting them get to know me. I love implementing activities into my lessons that focus on my students’ identity, who they are, and where they are from. 

In my classroom, we learn about each other’s cultures, traditions, and celebrations. I incorporate outside sports, game day, hands-on activities, and singing to promote social language so students can lower their effective filters such as embarrassment, low self-esteem, and learning anxiety. I teach and learn about my students’ cultures and beliefs so they feel secure to embrace their differences and feel seen. 

I decided to become a cooperating teacher for Cindy Vargas, an M.A.T. student at Meredith, because I felt it was a great opportunity to inspire and guide a new teacher. It was so rewarding to mentor Cindy because it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own beliefs and reasons for becoming an ESL teacher. I wanted to show her that teaching can be fun and exciting. There’s been so much negative news about teaching lately and I wanted her to see that when you love what you do it shows in you, your classroom, and your students. Teachers are difference makers and when you choose to be a teacher it is without a doubt a work of heart. Teaching can be life-changing if you let it.  

I was 44 when I first entered the M.A.T. program. I was so nervous. I had not been in an educational setting in so many years and felt like I may have made a mistake. But Meredith College was different. They saw me and wanted me to succeed. They made me feel valued as an individual and a student. The M.A.T. program has given me the tools to be a successful educator. My professors were always there to support me academically and emotionally. I was not just a student in their classroom, they knew me by name and took the time to know who I was. That was so important. 

I would absolutely recommend Meredith’s M.A.T. program – without a doubt! I still can contact my professors and they still support and guide me. It’s incredible to have such a strong support system. Meredith has involved me in so many events. They make me feel valued and seen. I love that! They definitely model how a good teacher should be. I love giving back to the college that has taught me how to be the teacher my students need and deserve. 

During the two and a half years I was in the M.A.T. program, I grew into the teacher I always wanted to become. During the admissions process, I questioned my decision many times. But once I received that acceptance letter, I knew I had made the right decision. Now, after three years of teaching ESL and being named Teacher of the Year, I know that I am exactly where I am meant to be – fulfilling my purpose and having the time of my life!”