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Madison Metropolitan School District

From Student Teaching to Teaching Students: New Sandburg ELI Teacher Reflects on Return to Practicum School

From Student Teaching to Teaching Students: New Sandburg ELI Teacher Reflects on Return to Practicum School

Stephanie Ontiveros’ last day of student teaching at Sandburg Elementary was only the beginning of her career and impact at the school. While the day was full of goodbyes as she left Dayanidi Ortiz’s first grade Dual Language Immersion (DLI) classroom, Ontiveros wasn’t gone long. Now, she’s back at Sandburg, this time in her own classroom as a new fourth grade English Language Immersion (ELI) teacher.

Ontiveros, who grew up speaking both English and Spanish, knew from the second grade she wanted to be a teacher. As a teenager, she began volunteering in her mom’s classroom, inspiring her to always ensure students feel welcomed, comfortable, and safe when they walk into the room. By the time she was student teaching, Ontiveros had the opportunity to combine her language and teaching skills into one role.

“For me, being bilingual is such an important part of my identity. I think it is important for students to know that they are represented, not only in the school, but in the classroom as well,” Ontiveros said. “I want students to value that they know a second language.”

Returning to Sandburg was an easy decision for Ontiveros, who said her previous knowledge of the school’s procedures, routines, and expectations made the transition easier, both for her and her students. 

“The community at Sandburg was one of the reasons I wanted to come back and teach full time,” Ontiveros said. “The staff are so welcoming and always willing to help.”

In addition to Ortiz, Ontiveros had another familiar face down the hall to support her during the transition; her sister, Itzel Ontiveros, is a first-year second grade DLI teacher at Sandburg. Just like Stephanie, Itzel was also a student teacher at the school. Earlier this month, the sisters created a shared “Kindness Activity” for their classes, giving their students an opportunity to grow their social circle and meet other kids who speak both Spanish and English.

As Ontiveros continues to settle into her new role, she’s reminded every day of the best part of returning to Sandburg.

“One of my favorite things is being able to still see the kiddos I student taught. They see me sometimes in the hallway, and it is always exciting for both them and me.”