Bianca Belmonte-Sapien became a National Board Certified Teacher out of her passion for history and politics and a desire to work in her community to serve Hispanic students who are struggling language learners. Over her 16 year career, she has taught incarcerated students and credit recovery online students, many of whom have dropped out of high school. She inspires at-risk students to be active participants in the world around them.
She received the ING Unsung Heroes Award and the PNM Foundation Grant in 2005, and hasn’t stopped writing grants for her students. She recently received the Bill of Rights Constitutional Connections grant to analyze the impact of spying on America’s values. With empathy and compassion, she uses technology, accessible texts, hands-on activities and high interest topics to push her students to excel. As a social studies and English language arts teacher, she develops inquiry from her experiences at conferences and as a CSPAN Summer Workshop Teacher, a two-time Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminar participant, and from being a committee member of the National Council for the Social Studies. She has shared her craft as a curriculum writer for the Bill of Rights Institute, Albuquerque’s Tricentennial Celebration, and the Albuquerque Teacher’s Institute. While in the classroom, she has also mentored teachers at every stage, especially those seeking state or national board licensure. In this role, she helps countless students as a teacher of teachers. Next year, she will teach exclusively with our virtual online high school preparing students to use technology in every aspect of learning.
Why do you teach?
I teach to make sure all kids have a chance to live the dream. Whatever they want to be, they need a teacher who believes in them, connects with them through their respective cultures and shows compassion for their stories. At-risk language learners need to graduate high school and continue their education to escape the cycle of poverty, garner higher wages and live out their life path.
What do you love about teaching?
I love connecting ideas with my students through language, culture, pictures, art and technology. Asking the right questions gets my students excited about learning and I love to see them work hard in a fun and positive environment. I love to make them laugh because I listen to the same music or watch the same shows and can share a fun experience with them even when their environment could be so negative.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?
Chicha Lynch, my Algebra teacher from middle school. She would not let me give up even when I struggled and did not understand. She would always help me and expected me to do well.