Patricia Magallanes

Patricia Magallanes of Belvidere has spent seven of her 10 years of teaching at Washington STEM Academy in Belvidere, where she teaches 4th grade Bi-Lingual. “Teaching in a low income STEM school required me to increase my level of commitment to achieve goals I did not think I could meet.” Patricia completed a master’s program, participates in professional development training, encourages parent/student feedback and collaborates with other educators to move her teaching practices forward. With the knowledge and experience she’s gained, she mentors new teachers to help them be successful, particularly in personalized learning and integrating curriculum. While each student has individual skills and needs and they aren’t all necessarily at grade level, Patricia says that each of them “has the potential to make great gains that can be celebrated.” Patricia pushes students to set and achieve goals they may not have initially thought they could meet. She says “they are taught that mistakes and ‘getting stuck’ are just a part of the learning process and it does not define them or represent their capacity for learning.” She wants her students to see their “learning as a process and not as a ‘smart or not smart’ trait.” Dr. Megan Johnson, Patricia’s former principal and current asst. superintendent, recommends her as an expert in Project Based Learning. “Patti and her students look at the project/task at hand, determine the standards they are working on, and then develop a learning plan of how they are going to get there. When visiting Patti’s classroom, students take great pride in telling you what they are working on, why they are working on it, and how this will help in the future.” Daily morning meetings include discussion, problem solving and celebrations of achievements, large and small. The trust built through these meetings helps students feel secure to take risks to advance their learning. Patricia’s trust and encouraging words inspire her students to trust and encourage each other. When one child retreated to the Calm Corner, quietly crying in frustration about multiplication, she spotted a child who had previously been struggling, go assure her. Before long, the first student returned to try again. Patricia adds that, “as an educator, I carry the responsibility of academically preparing my students for the next grade level, but my philosophy in teaching is to prepare students to become good citizens in our community.”