Jessica Ivonne Fredes-Williams
What makes Herrera Special?
Silvestre S. Herrera School is very special to our family because it embraces the development and teaching of the whole child. We embrace the artistic, academic, linguistic, social, emotional and physical development of each and every child. We prepare children for adulthood and to become global citizens and leaders of the future. We believe in our Dual Language and Performing Arts school so much that we entrusted our son Benjamin, with Autism, to be educated here from Kinder to 8th grade, our son Joshua from K-1 and 6-8th grade, and our youngest daughter Sophia from Kinder to 4th and hopefully to 8th grade.
Grade: 3rd grade
Subject: All subjects in Dual Language
Education: Graduated from Kings Park High School in Long Island, New York
Degrees: Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education with Emphasis in Bilingual Education/ESL
Master Degree in Early Childhood Education
# of years in education: This is my 27th year teaching in PESD 1
# of years at Herrera: This is my 17th year teaching at Herrera School
Institutions: Arizona State University
Northern Arizona University
What brought you to teach children?
My father and mother moved to the United States from Chile in 1963. I was a first generation born Chilean American. My parents, especially my father said that all of his daughters would graduate with a university degree. So I started ASU at 17 and graduated at 21.
My first language was Spanish. In New York, I started kindergarten at 4 years old and was put in an English only classroom. I was pulled out of my classroom every day for an hour and felt totally lost when I returned. I was bullied and teased by students for having dark hair, dark eyes, and speaking a foreign language. I was traumatized. In second grade, I learned to read, write and speak English fluently. Teachers never allowed me to use my Spanish. Ironically, in Chile, students mandatorily learn three languages: Spanish, English and French. As a teenager, I learned the value and beauty of languages.
I felt the calling on my life to become a teacher by my freshman year in high school. I loved seeing life through the eyes of child because they are innocent, inquisitive and positive. I wanted to ensure that another child would never have to suffer the humiliation of knowing two or more languages. I observed the qualities of my favorite teachers in high school in the hopes of someday acquiring their strengths. Today, I love being a mother and seeing life through the eyes of my own 5 beloved children as well as the eyes of my precious students. Children keep us forever young.
I began teaching at Bethune in 1993 in a bilingual first grade classroom. At that beautiful time of AZ history, our entire Phoenix Elementary School District # 1 had Transitional Bilingual programs at all school sites.
Favorite book as an adult: Louder than Words by Jenny McCarthy about a mother and her experience of having an autistic child.
I enjoy teaching through fine arts integration using reader’s theater, plays, choral reading, songs, total physical response, dance, cooking, literature studies and thematic units. I also believe in having community partnerships like with the Musical Instrumental Museum in the Ofrenda Project and ASU partnership with bilingual teachers as reading buddies.