This year’s Irving ISD Elementary District of the Year is Ms. Joselyn Castillo, a third grade teacher at John Haley Elementary School.
Ms. Castillo is an Irving ISD graduate. After attending elementary school in Mexico, she attended Bowie MS and Nimitz HS before beginning her college journey. She knew she belonged in Irving ISD and returned to teach because she wanted to teach kids just like her. She says, “ I wanted to teach kids that were just like me and shared my story. I am an English language learner and I love my community. I loved growing up here and had the best memories in school. I wanted to be part of students’ lives and their experiences and help them believe that anything is possible.”
Ms. Castillo calls Irving ISD home and is happy that she is supported with great resources to become a better teacher to her students. An aspiring leader on campus, Ms. Castillo’s favorite thing about being a teacher is the strong sense of community she’s found. She always looks forward to seeing her students on the first day of school and the great bonds that she builds with them. “My favorite memory as a teacher is of a small note that I received from one of my students. It is a note that I have framed. He was a student that I had in kindergarten and he was now a 1st grader. One day, he slipped the note under my door when he was walking in the hallway. I did not see it at first, and when I finally did, I did tear up a little. The note was a drawing, and it had one simple sentence “‘Gracias maestra por enseñarme’” (“‘Thank you teacher for teaching me”’).”
In the upcoming school year, one of Ms. Castillo’s goals is to become an expert at math curriculum. She says she’s always called herself a “reading teacher,” but is excited to provide high quality learning experiences for her students. She also hopes to gain more leadership skills by learning from her campus principal and assistant principals.
This year’s challenge for Ms. Castillo was building a community in the classroom when half the students were present in class and the other online. She is happy that her and her students were able to overcome that barrier and successfully create positive relationships and a safe place.
As her students and her built a fun, safe, and engaging place to learn, Ms. Castillo’s learned to enjoy the simple things in life and have fun! Although teaching can sometimes be a stressful job, she says her students’ laughs and joy are the best remedy. “They have taught me that life is for laughter and joy. But they have also taught me the definition of strength when they tell me their stories about where they lived before. I have learned from them as much as I hope they have learned from me. They inspire me every day.”
From the Irving Schools Foundation team, we congratulate Ms. Castillo for her great journey at John Haley Elementary and look forward to her future success as an inspiring educator.