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District’s Classified Employee of the Year Speaks the Language of Richland One

Lisa Flores

pictured: Lisa Flores

It is just after lunchtime and the flags of Cuba, Germany, Lebanon, Mexico and various other parts of the world adorn the classroom at Hand Middle School where Lisa Flores is an instructional assistant working with students who are English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

The Latin words on the painted ceiling tiles serve as epitaphs of encouragement in a rather typical fashion for a classroom where English is deemed the second language. On this day, the unassuming Flores opens with journal writing in English, followed by SMART board exercises, also in English. One by one, the students approach the board for a grammar lesson and have no trouble getting the correct answers.

“You don't have to be fluent in another language in order to communicate with those who do not speak English, but it can be useful,” said Flores, who does speak Spanish. “The goal is to help our students become stronger in speaking, writing and reading in English.”

This includes learning activities such as phonics, the use of rebus charts and the selection of age-appropriate books, she adds. Integrating those activities into a way of life is crucial, according to Flores.

“It often goes beyond the classroom because we are the ones they come to when they are in need in real life,” she said.

They even serve as support for parents, helping with interactions and understanding what their children are doing in school. It is a privilege Flores credits Richland One with providing.

“The district is supportive of its employees and recognizing that what we are doing is important,” said Flores, who has been in Richland One 26 years and is the district’s 2021-2022 Classified Employee of the Year. “I've met and worked with some amazing people, and the students have definitely kept things interesting.”

For those who are thinking of becoming a part of the district, Flores said volunteering and serving as a substitute teacher are ways to determine if education is the career choice for them – that’s how she began.

“My son’s class was making a quilt and they needed volunteers that knew how to sew with a needle and thread and be able to teach the students,” said Flores. “I enjoyed it so much that I continued to volunteer, which eventually led to applying for a position that became available.”

There are many career opportunities in teaching and non-teaching areas, all of which are very important, said Flores. She contends that the success of the student is the district's priority and to be part of it is what education is all about.