Del Mar teacher wins excellence award

Published: June 3, 2008 | 7098th good news item since 2003

Candy Basso is strict, which is understandable because she teaches a class of 30 English Language Development students at Del Mar High School.

Once in a while, though, she will do something spontaneous and fun. When an ELD student asked her what an 8-foot giant was, Basso stood on a stool to demonstrate the height while the students laughed and stood up to compare their height with hers.

More than anything, Basso understands the importance of getting to know her ELD students. All of her students are first-generation immigrants, and many of them share similar problems, such as being separated from family members and having to worry about sending money back home. She makes an effort to know her students’ struggles at home to help her to empathize with them when they are struggling in school.

Basso’s teaching methods are just part of why she received the Excellence in Education award from the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nonprofit organization established in 1990.

“We nominated her because she’s the chairman of our ELD program,” said principal Jim Russell. “Our test scores surpass the state standards significantly. Our program has exceeded the state targets for years, and we attribute it to Candy’s leadership, having selected the programs and putting it in place.”

Basso puts extra time and effort into the ELD program by ordering books, programs and new technology and showing teachers how to implement them into their lesson plans.

She also meets with the ELD students and their parents. Despite these efforts, she credits the teachers as the reason Del Mar’s ELD program is doing so well.

“We’re fortunate that we have good teachers and money from the state,” she said.

One of Basso’s most impressive endeavors is the book she co-authored, called Coming to America. The book, which has yet to be published, tells the inspiring stories of some of her immigrant students.

“It acknowledges them, who they are and their culture,” Basso said. “For me as a teacher it makes me more empathetic knowing, for example, that a student didn’t do his homework because he is paying rent. I think other people will learn from the stories.”

Basso wrote the book because she wanted to help other teachers gain a better perspective on ELD students. The book also offers tips for teaching ELD students. The top five tips are: Review vocabulary and pronunciation; use lots of visuals; discipline the bad students; encourage students to participate (some students come from countries where it is considered disrespectful to ask the teacher a question); and ask them to stay after class for help.

“I think she’s cool and the best teacher,” said freshman Jerusalem Bekele, who moved to the United States from Ethiopia nine months ago. “She prepares us for everything we know. She helps us with everything from homework to classwork.”

Published in Teachers
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