Blake's Brainiacs: Local bilingual teacher is PAEMST National Award finalist

SAN ANTONIO – When you step into Angelica Nino’s third grade-classroom at De Zavala Elementary on the West Side you’ll notice two things: students excited about learning math and a teacher dedicated to helping them.

Music, technology, and teamwork are all part of Nino’s curriculum, but one word is a main focus in her classroom – the word "yet."

"My students, I tell them, if you cannot do it – you cannot do it yet. So we need to work, keep working and get better at it," said Nino.

It’s a motto that many other teachers have adopted and one of the tactics that earned Nino recognition from the school’s principal, Donna Finch.

"It's definitely her style of teaching, but it is also the conversations that I hear in the classroom, not from what she is talking about but what is being generated from the students,” Finch said.

Last year, Finch convinced Nino to apply for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Nino is just one of six teachers in Texas to be nominated. One year after applying, she is a finalist.

"I'm honored to represent San Antonio ISD, my school, my fellow teachers, bilingual teachers — because I'm a bilingual teacher — most of all to represent this community because I want them to feel proud that this is where their children go to school,” Nino said.

If she wins the PAEMST, she will receive national recognition along with the following:

  • A certificate signed by the president of the United States.
  • A paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities.
  • A $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.
  • An opportunity to build lasting partnerships with colleagues across the nation.

In addition to having her work acknowledged by the principal, Nino’s students recognize her dedication. 

“She never lets us down. When she says something, she does it,” said Abimael Hernandez, a student at De Zavala Elementary who also wishes her well. “Good luck, Ms. Nino. Cross your fingers because I want you to win, and you're a sweet teacher.”

Check out one of Ms. Nino’s mathematics teaching tactics:

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