Ms. Victoriano Puts Science Degree Aside to Focus on ESL

Diana Villanueva and Lizzy Vanegas

In Kindergarten at Fairview Elementary School in Fort Smith, Ms. Ruth Victoriano only spoke one language — Spanish, which made attending American school difficult. However, Mrs. Tierra, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, eased the discomfort.

“She would come to my class and help with my English pronunciation,” Ms. Victoriano said. “I was born here, but my parents only spoke Spanish at home. I would watch Peter Rabbit and through that VHS tape, I learned a few words in English. Looking back at those experiences, I decided that I wanted to give it a shot as an ESL teacher.”

Ms. Victoriano aspires to pay it forward like Mrs. Tierra did for her.

“I hope to motivate students to continue their education and succeed in life,” Ms. Victoriano said.

In her entry year as a paraprofessional, Ms. Victoriano has already encountered some challenges. She did not join the Kimmons faculty until two months into the school year. A recent graduate of UAFS, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology — not education, and she has already struggled to motivate English Language Learners (ELLs) who are at a stage of indifference about school.

“This will be my first year as an ESL instructor and having no background in education, I had no idea how I was going to be able to motivate, connect and interact with students,” Ms. Victoriano said.

What Ms. Victoriano likes best about Kimmons is the staff.

“Everyone here is invested in the students’ education as well as their well being,” Ms. Victoriano said.

Outside of school, Ms. Victoriano likes to be with her siblings, watch movies, go out to eat, knit, or do hands-on-activities.

“At the end of the school day I like to relax, enjoy a cup of mocha, do other things that are different from what I do at the beginning of the day,” Ms. Victoriano said.

In the future, Ms. Victoriano aspires to earn certification in both internal medicine and pediatrics.

“Ever since I was a little girl and had my first doctor’s appointment, I’ve always wanted to become a doctor,” Ms. Victoriano said. “At first, I wanted to be in family medicine, but I was also interested in pediatrics. After I had my first interview, I found out about the residency program Med-ped [internal medicine and pediatrics] and then became invested.”