Idaho's 2021 Teacher of the Year focuses on dual immersion program

Posted at 4:29 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 18:29:42-04

BOISE — In a time when teachers work more hours and answer more questions, it's essential to recognize their hard work. Jorge Pulleiro was one of the 170 teachers that applied for the Idaho 2021 Teacher of the Year award, and his work with dual language programs earned him the spot.

His eighth graders spend three weeks visiting Spain, working with a school in Madrid. A few years back, they even met the king of Spain, King Felipe VI.

"He gave us the opportunity to meet with him for an hour in his palace, and we met with him, and we had a round of Q&A," said Pulleiro,

"It was so rewarding for me as a teacher to see my students asking questions to his majesty and him asking questions to them."

Immersion helps students connect their classroom education with the culture they're studying. Jorge's students often enter high school, ready for pre-AP or AP Spanish.

"Learning a new language is so important because as a monolingual, you live just one world, but as bilingual or trilingual you live two, three worlds, and it helps you, it opens so many doors," said Pulleiro.

Doors that open into future career choices, too.

"To be, not just bilingual but academically bilingual, educated bilingual, you will have jobs that will pay you so well, said Pulleiro.

Bilingual education should work both ways, and it's essential there are opportunities for success for native Spanish speakers in Idaho.

"Our at-risk youth, and our English language learners happen to be sometimes in that category, so we're pleased to have Jorge be part of that process as we move forward," said superintendent of public instruction Sherri Ybarra.
Success takes practice, which Jorge knows from growing up in Argentina and working his way through school to learn English.

His mastery of the English language eventually earned him two masters in education, his dream job in Blaine county, and a new title to add to his legacy.

"If I was able to progress academically, to do all these things even though I grew up in third world country, so can my students," said Jorge.