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Ayala: Communication is key to teaching

Post Independent/Kelley CoxAdriana Ayala's Glenwood Springs High School classroom is filled with evidence of her vibrant personality.
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For Adriana Ayala, the ability for students to communicate means empowerment. Being able to teach them how to communicate means endless rewards.

Ayala, who teaches English to Spanish-speaking students at Glenwood Springs High School and is a Spanish instructor at Colorado Mountain College, says being able to influence the children she teaches is a tremendous reward.

Teaching isn’t just a matter of instructing, she said. It’s a way to impact young people’s lives.



“I see my influence with them a lot more realistic and more important because my students have real issues,” Ayala said. “I’m talking about pregnancy and living on their own, poverty, the dilemma between dropping out and working or continuing in school and trying to get an education.”

And teaching kids how to communicate and thus to compete in the global workforce is all the more important in an area that is becoming increasingly bilingual.



“I don’t think we are stepping up to the plate to teach our students Spanish and I think it’s something we ought to be doing if we want to be able to compete in this global economy,” she said.

Students who only speak one language are at a disadvantage in society, she said, adding that they’d be better off if schools would teach them Spanish or another foreign language beginning in first grade.

Ayala has first hand experience with what it means to cross borders and be able to communicate well in order to succeed. Born in Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua in northern Mexico, Ayala spent her childhood making frequent trips to El Paso, Texas. After moving to the United States 25 years ago, Ayala attended CMC and earned her bachelor’s degree at Metro State College in Denver and her masters degree from the University of Colorado.

She’s been teaching in Garfield County for 13 years, including nine years at Carbondale Middle School and three at Glenwood High School.

Her teaching acumen was rewarded this year when the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education named Ayala the bilingual teacher of the year, an award she said shows that immigrant students can succeed.

“I think that what this award represents for me and my students and my community is that for anybody out there who is an immigrant into this country and who thinks or wonders whether they’re going to make it through school or not, I guess it represents that there is hope in education,” she said.

Education is hope, she said, and it opens doors for anybody.

“For a lot of my students, getting educated is kind of an unreachable dream,” she said. “They have so many hurdles they need to jump before they can get there.”

One of the most valuable lessons Ayala said she has learned through her teaching is that when students learn a new language, they’re also learning about a new culture.

“I always notice not only at (the) high school or (the) middle school, but at CMC, that people are starving for what’s different,” she said. “Learning a second language is something completely different. I like to ignite that sparkle in anybody.”

Teaching for Ayala is a her passion, but she has big dreams. She said that in five years, she would like to have earned a PhD and be publishing her research. She said she’ll continue teaching “absolutely, forever.”

The power of teaching, she said, is being able to affect a child’s life in a meaningful way.

“It’s not like we go home and we think about how many pairs of shoes we sold or how many cars we fixed,” Ayala said. “It’s kind of, we go home and think about how many lives we touched. How much can we change a person’s life? And that’s the power of teaching.”

Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. 520

bmagill@postindependent.com

Name: Adriana Ayala

Age: 39

Occupation: English as a second language teacher

Hometown: Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico

Years in Garfield County: 13

Favorite Place in Garfield County: Triangle Park on Buford Road


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