Holly always dreamed of being a teacher. From the time she was a little girl, she would lead “classroom” sessions with her siblings. When she was hired to implement and teach in one of the first Dual Language Immersion programs at Jamestown Elementary School, her dream finally became a reality!
Q. What brought you to UCR University Extension? Tell us about your path leading up to today.
A. Being an educator has always been my lifelong goal. From my earliest memories, I can recall corralling my siblings and cousins to play school as I “taught” them to read and sing! Later on, I found ways to work with children through church organizations and volunteer opportunities. Although born in California, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to live in Puerto Rico for 11 years as a child and to become fluent in Spanish.
In college, I studied Early Childhood Education and subsequently, taught Pre-School for 10 years. While very fulfilling, I really wanted to teacher Kindergarten and decided to complete my K-12 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential in 2009. After many years of applying and interviewing all over California, I was hired in 2015 to help implement the first Dual Language Immersion program in Tuolumne County at Jamestown Elementary. Up to that point, I had never imagined a teaching position so personalized to my unique skills – Kindergarten and Spanish!
I decided to pursue my Bilingual Authorization in the Fall of 2019, in part to fulfill state requirements, but also to enhance my skills as a bilingual teacher. After searching out the various options, I decided to enroll in the Bilingual Authorization program through UCR University Extension because it fit my needs best. I was able to take classes online while continuing to teach in a Dual Immersion classroom, along with earning University credit towards advancement on the salary scale at my school.
Q. What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your journey?
A. Beginning the Bilingual Authorization through UCR University Extension was a relatively easy process. I had completed the Orientation in the Fall of 2019, and was just getting ready to begin my first of four classes when the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Needless to say, I was uncertain about what the lock-downs would mean for the future of the Bilingual Authorization program. My primary concern had to do with completing the program requirements of working in a bilingual classroom while distance learning. UCR University Extension and the Bilingual Authorization staff took a scary situation and adapted it to fit the ever-evolving pandemic so that I could complete all of my requirements with minimal disruption.
Q. What were some of the unexpected benefits?
A. Going into the Bilingual Authorization, I had some general expectations about what I would get out of the process. Along with expanding my knowledge of bilingual education in the United States, I expected to develop a new repertoire of bilingual activities and skills. One unexpected benefit I encountered as a result of this program was the opportunity to meet and collaborate with skilled bilingual educators from all over California. It was enlightening to learn about how bilingual education is taught at other schools and the strategies that they found most effective.
Q. What career (or other) advice would you give to students or graduates looking to move into your industry?
A. Contrary to the job landscape 12 years ago when I completed my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, quality teachers are in high demand today. With the passage of Prop 58 and the roll-out of the Global CA 2030 Initiative, bilingual education is expanding significantly across the state. Now is the time for anyone with a true passion for bilingual education to join countless other educators across California - working tirelessly, sometimes through unprecedented scenarios, to make bilingual education a reality for their students.
Q. What are your hopes and aims for the future?
A. My hopes and aims for the future are pretty simple! I want to continue doing what I love – expanding young minds by introducing them to the awesome world of being bilingual. In the immediate future, I will continue being a leader in our Dual Language Immersion program at Jamestown Elementary as we expand and improve the quality of bilingual education provided to our students. For the future, I intend to strengthen my knowledge of bilingual education through research, additional classes and conferences, networking with other Dual Language Immersion programs, and collaborating with Spanish programs in other states and countries.
Holly reminds us all of how important Bilingual Education is in today’s world. Like she says, “it expands young minds, and it’s the new reality.” It’s teachers like Holly who make valuable contributions to education, and a real difference in our kids’ lives. We are honored to be part of her journey!
Holly Hutchins, Teacher / EL Coordinator
Kindergarten Dual Immersion Teacher
BS, Early Childhood Education, Pacific Union College
K-12 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, CSU Fresno
Graduate, UCR University Extension