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District educator receives state-wide recognition as Bilingual/ESL Secondary Teacher of the Year

 Cindy Barcenas        Cindy Barcenas is a Pearland Independent School District Bilingual/ESL educator who is passionate about being a voice and support system for her students. With nine years of educational experience, Barcenas was recently nominated as the 2019 Bilingual/ESL Secondary Teacher of the Year by the Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE).

       “It is a great honor and privilege to represent Pearland ISD and the Houston Area Association for Bilingual Educators,” Barcenas said. “This moment is something that most educators merely dream about and I am blessed to have this accomplishment as a reality. This award is for all of my students, their parents, my colleagues and my support system. Without all of them, I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have in my career.”

       Through her servant leadership and dedication to fueling ESL/bilingual students with passion for learning, Barcenas creates a lasting positive impact inside and outside the classroom.

       “I am passionate about being students’ voice of encouragement as they pursue their dreams, their voice of support as they grow in their academics and their support system as they encounter joyful, exciting or trying times in life,” Barcenas said.

       Her inspiration to become an educator came from two different sources. The first, from several family members who were teachers, including a dedicated uncle who poured his heart and soul into teaching, became a principal and passed away while preparing to become a superintendent. The second source is a profound childhood memory of a Hispanic friend who, after failing a state standardized test due to language challenges and receiving discouraging words from a teacher, decided to drop out of high school.

       “I vowed to myself to do all that I could to prevent someone else from giving up on themselves like my friend did,” she said. “Working with diverse students has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. There is something special about being a lifeline for our recent arrival students and a source of encouragement.”

       Becoming the Bilingual/ESL Secondary Teacher of the Year was a long process that had several steps, including applying and being selected as a Bilingual/ESL Secondary Teacher for both Pearland ISD, as well as Houston Area Association of Bilingual Education (HAABE). John Palombo, principal of Pearland High School, where Cindy Barcenas taught during the 2018-19 school year, praises her as an asset to the entire school.

       “Beyond teaching, Cindy is a campus leader, where her passion and love for kids is unmatched. She is compassionate, creative, organized and a team player who works tirelessly to meet our campus goal of meeting every kid's needs,” Palombo said. “There have been countless instances she has spent time working with students and families to make sure their needs are met at school and even at home.”

       After more than eight years in the classroom, Barcenas moved into a new role as Pearland ISD’s Dual Language/ESL Specialist, assisting with and facilitating district-wide trainings, ESL meetings and collaboratives and supporting campuses with issues ranging from compliance to instructional strategies for English Learners.

       “In my new position, I am able to have a greater impact on students and teachers within the district. This opportunity allows me to help our fabulously strong department to continue to strengthen our rapidly growing program one day at a time,” Barcenas said.

       Barcenas’ passion for education follows her, regardless of the position she holds.

       “Being an educator is not only my career, it is my calling. There is no better profession or life's mission than to help empower a child striving to reach their full potential in life,” she said.

       Cindy Barcenas will be honored for her outstanding leadership at the TABE Teacher of the Year Awards Banquet in Corpus Christi, TX on Friday, October 18.