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Bilingual Education Creates a Lifelong Love of Learning

Tags: Regional Partnerships

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Emily Padgett, Fellowship Class of 2017
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The Metro Regional Council visits Escuela de Guadalupe


Joining El Pomar Foundation’s Fellowship program was a leap into the unknown. I moved to a strange new city, and began my very first office job. However, what made me feel connected to the Fellowship was the heavy emphasis on personal growth, and the opportunity to continue learning.

I was raised in a bi-racial household where we could just as easily be told “lava tus manos” as “wash your hands” before dinner. My parents understood the importance of balancing my dual Mexican and American heritages, and made the life-changing decision to put me and my brother in a bilingual elementary school when I was in the third grade.

I still remember going to my first day of school at Escuela Bilingue Pioneer, a bilingual dual immersion focus school in Boulder Valley School District. I was terrified – for all the normal reasons, but also because I knew that for my first month of school I was going to be speaking, reading, and writing only in Spanish. That fear melted away the moment that my first friend asked me if I wanted to split her pudding cup in a combination of Spanish and English that I did not know existed outside of my house. 

I felt that same sense of relief when I began supporting the Metro Regional Council, and learned that they had been supporting Escuela de Guadalupe, a Catholic dual-language school serving the same type of population that I grew up with. I quickly became invested in the Council’s work in making a difference in middle schools, because I realized that learning in a non-traditional environment where we were challenged in two languages instilled in me a lifelong love of learning that ultimately led me to the Fellowship.