Sally Paz y Miño-Wilson
Elementary School Teacher
Sally Paz y Miño-Wilson became an educator because of her desire to support and fortify the children affected by generational poverty in her hometown of Annapolis, Maryland. She witnessed the cycle of poverty with which her classmates struggled throughout her PreK-12 years in Title I and challenge schools. She began as a Social Work major at the University of Maryland College Park before changing her career path to Elementary Education. At UMD, Mrs. Wilson was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society. At the time of her graduation, she received a nomination to be the University of Maryland Commencement speaker.
Mrs. Wilson began her teaching career in 2010 at the British School Quito (BSQ) in her father’s birth country, Ecuador. She served as an ESL teacher, as the Ecuadorian students of the school received all academic instruction in English. In 2011, she brought the ESOL experience that she gained at BSQ to Tyler Heights Elementary in Annapolis, a high-poverty, high-transience school of largely recent Central American immigrants, and students of low-income backgrounds with the goal of empowering all of her students through education. There, she has continued her teaching career, working passionately to open the door of education to her students in order to accomplish the ultimate goal: to break the cycle of poverty and provide all children with the tools needed to become lifelong learners and achieve their goals for the future. After completing her first year of teaching, Sally traveled to the Dominican Republic to serve as a bilingual literacy teacher with Outreach 360, an international nonprofit organization.
During her time with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Mrs. Wilson has been an advocate for her students and the community. She has mentored many students over the years as a part of the school’s mentor program. She has been a Saturday Kids’ College teacher in her district, whose goal was to build background knowledge through unique experiences for children in poverty. She is a member of her school’s Community Engagement Committee, which seeks to build the school/home partnership in various ways including planning community events. Since 2014, she has served as her school’s Intermediate Lead Teacher, as an instructional leader in the school. In 2015, Mrs. Wilson founded the Teachers of Newcomers Think Tank, which brings together teachers of students who immigrated to the US within the last year, in which those teachers brainstorm strategies and best practices, in order to build teacher capacity to serve these high-needs students. She is a member of the Maryland ELL Family Involvement Network, which creates and shares resources in support of ELL families in Maryland. Recently, she served as a volunteer for adult English classes for many of her students’ parents through her church. Mrs. Wilson was recently appointed as her school’s Equity Liaison. As the Equity Liaison, she will provide professional development to her fellow teachers in order to strategically close the achievement and opportunity gaps through targeted action steps. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in School Counseling in order to broaden her impact to more students and families.
Throughout her career, Mrs. Wilson has maintained her focus on breaking the cycle of generational poverty through bridging the gap between home and school, and recruiting families as partners in the learning process. She has planned various academic events for families to increase parent presence in the classroom. She continues to act as an advocate for families in her community through planning and participation in family forums, community walks, and family partnership circles.
Why do you teach?
I teach to transform the community in which I live. I want to empower children to take charge of their futures, and believe that they really can live the life that they choose. The work I do each day is centered on motivating children to believe that education is the ticket to a better life.
What do you love about teaching?
There is so much that I love about teaching. I love the magic that happens when a student who has struggled in the past begins to believe in the power of effort, and becomes more invested in her or her education. I love creating authentic lessons that get children excited about the content. When a student makes connections beyond the classroom, and begins to carry skills to other arenas of his or her life, it makes me hungry to push on even harder in my efforts in education.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?
I had many wonderful teachers throughout my school career. The teachers who made an impact on me were those who showed passion and a love of teaching even in schools that presented unique challenges. One stands out among them; Mrs. Patricia McQuade. She showed so much compassion, love, and patience for each of her students, while maintaining high expectations to which her students rose. She inspired me to go into teaching, and we remain in touch to this day.