My name is Nancy Garza Piceno. I was born in a small town in south Texas known as Roma (about 250 miles south of San Antonio). I am the youngest of four kids. My parents were originally from Mexico but have lived in the U.S.A. for about 50 years now. I went to school in a town near the border of Mexico where Spanish is the primary language. I was born in Roma and all I knew was small-town living.
As soon as I graduated from high school, I started substituting in a Head Start school and in some elementary schools. I was able to substitute teacher in different grade levels but really enjoyed it when I was working in the Head Start school. I knew from then that I wanted to work with the young kids.
In 1997, I married my high school sweetheart. My husband and I had our fist son and were starting our small family. I was still going to college and was learning to be a mother and wife as well. My husband worked hard to provide for us and had an opportunity to get a job in Arlington, Texas. I was halfway through my semester and could not leave, so my husband ended up moving without us. As soon as the semester ended, I packed up my son and me and joined my husband in Arlington.
Having come from a small town that was isolated from the city life, I was somewhat nervous but excited at the same time. I wasn’t very familiar with big cities and was hesitant when it came to having to go out into the new world and explore. Nevertheless, I enrolled in The University of Texas at Arlington and continued going to college to pursue my Education degree. I knew I wanted to work with kids and wanted to continue with my education to be able to get into a school and start my teaching career. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the bilingual department in UTA and joined the B.E.S.O. organization. Through this program, I got the opportunity to receive grants, which allowed me to be able to continue my education.
Being a young mom away from my family, in a new city, I used what I was learning in my classes and practiced at home with my own son. I played with him, taught him and got to enjoy being around him even more because I was growing as a mother as well as an educator. Through UTA, I also got the opportunity to work in Fort Worth ISD as a teacher assistant while doing my student teaching.
I was on my last semester and 7 months pregnant when I went to an job fair and got an interview for a Pre-K3 position at Atherton elementary. I went to the interview and got the job. I had my second child in April, graduated in May and got called to work summer school in June! I worked as a Pre-k3 and 4 teacher for about 6 years at Atherton Elementary.
I then found out Ashworth was looking to hire for a Pre-k teacher position. I interviewed and was hired. I worked as a Pre-K 4 teacher for another 7 years before becoming the FLES Spanish Teacher. I am on my first year as a Spanish teacher and am enjoying the change. I get to work with different grade levels, which I hadn’t done since my student teaching. It’s fun and interesting to see how young students can acquire a second language. I find it exciting to come up with interesting and captivating ways to help them understand what I am teaching. Its almost like working with Pre-K students because just like four year olds, I have to keep my second language learners focused and entertained in order to help them the most.
This year, I am able to return to the Pre-K classroom. I teach a Bilingual section in the morning and an ESL section in the afternoon.