Carbondale bilingual teacher named English as a Second Language Teacher of the Year |

Carbondale bilingual teacher named English as a Second Language Teacher of the Year

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Colorado Association of Bilingual Education Teacher of the Year Grace De La Sala and Carbondale Middle School student Alexandria Gallegos Vigil, who was a CABE Student Spotlight Award recipient in 2017.
Courtesy Photo

Carbondale Middle School teacher Grace De La Sala attributes her career path as a bilingual educator to her own experience as a second language learner.

The daughter of Colombian parents, her family moved to the United States for a chance at a better life and believed education was a way to get ahead, she said.

De La Sala was just named the 2019 English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher of the Year by the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education (CABE). 

“As a second language learner, I struggled with reading comprehension and writing in school, but didn’t get the support I needed,” De La Sala said in a press release announcing the award.

“This led me towards becoming an (English language development) teacher and really focusing on the whole child,” De La Sala recounted.

De La Sala has been with CMS, part of the Roaring Fork School District, for 14 years as what’s known in Colorado as a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) teacher. 

“Grace is an amazing teacher and well-deserving of this honor,” Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein said in the release.

CMS Principal Jennifer Lamont also spoke to De La Sala’s strengths as a CLDE teacher.

“She has had success helping her students become more proficient and confident as speakers, readers and writers of the English language and within the content area,” Lamont said.

She noted that, in the spring assessments, De La Sala’s students’ growth on the state’s English Language Arts test was 11% higher than the state average.

“Surely, Grace’s relationships with the students and their families have contributed to the success of her students,” Lamont said. 

The CABE award “recognizes leaders, outstanding teachers, and advocates for bilingualism, biculturalism, and biliteracy who play active and useful roles in their communities, as well as in their schools, and have a proven ability to inspire emerging bilingual students of various backgrounds to excel.”

According to her CMS website biography, De La Sala taught special education in Miami, Florida for four years before coming to CMS. 

She utilizes a program called SpringBoard in her seventh grade classroom, which is described as a research-based curriculum that prepares students for college. She also helped create study units to incorporate those lessons for fifth grade.

“Teaching is her passion and being able to have meaningful relationships with students and their families is something that she prides herself with,” according to the web bio. 

De La Sala also recently completed her Masters of Education degree in health and wellness.

“Grace engages her emerging bilingual students with expertise, enthusiasm, and love,” CLDE Director Amy Fairbanks said in the release. “She plans and implements high-quality instruction that is literacy-based and centered on authentic literature.

“Grace is a phenomenal teacher and an equally amazing human being. I am so proud that she is being recognized.”  

De La Sala will be honored during the annual CABE Awards Gala in Thornton on Oct. 11.

In 2017, another CMS teacher, Mary Hernandez, received the same award, and CMS student Alexandra Gallegos Vigil was presented with the CABE Spotlight Award.