Jaime Mosqueda’s approach to bilingual education means more than just practicing reading and writing. It means singing and playing music.
Everything the students learn in Spanish in Mosqueda’s kindergarten bilingual classroom at Johnson Elementary School comes through music.
“They don’t really know, but they’re actually learning because they’re having fun doing it,” he said, adding it helps them recall the information when they are tested in the spring. “Also, the music helps them with articulation and the pronunciation of words. It’s like if you want to learn a second language, music is a powerful tool.”
Once the students master the articulation and pronunciation, they move on to comprehension.
Mosqueda tells his students, “Sing me a song, and I will surely learn.”
The students can take the songs they learn in his classroom with them forever, he said, and even some parents have started learning the songs from their children.
“That’s what really makes me promote a lot of music is because that song goes a long way,” he said. “I still remember when I used to learn English, we used to learn ‘Bingo was his Name-o.’ ”
He thought it was just a song at the time, but he was learning his vowels and pronunciations.
Mosqueda moved with his family to Bryan from central Mexico when he was 5 years old and enrolled at Crockett Elementary until he moved to Sul Ross Elementary in the district’s first bilingual program.
“We owe Bryan so much, and the system,” he said.
Mosqueda has been at Johnson Elementary for 18 years, serving as a PE assistant and teacher’s aide before moving into the kindergarten classroom in 2008 after some encouragement from the school’s former principal Carol Happ.
“From the time Jaime came to Johnson as a PE assistant, I knew he belonged in the classroom,” Happ said. “His heart for kids was apparent from day one. Yes, he had a lot to learn, but he had the one thing you can’t teach, and that is a heart for kids. He always went above and beyond for the kids, from getting soccer shoes for a student who didn’t have them to bringing his band to play in our Cinco de Mayo celebrations.”
It was that connection with students that made Mosqueda pursue a career in teaching after driving trucks for a living.
“You never know what’s in God’s plans, and I think that once I got in this field, it opened my eyes to a whole different world, and I really love what I do. I love what I do,” he said. “That’s what I tell everybody: You’re going to have to wake up every morning to do something, so why not do what you love to do.”
Since creating the songs he uses in the classroom, he has sold some CDs to other school districts throughout Texas and in other states to use, as well as selling some songs to a publishing company.
The process of creating the songs targeted to the students has made him a better teacher, he said.
Every day he enters the classroom, he said, he learns something new and even tells his students he expects to learn as much from them as they learn from him.
One of the most important things teachers need to remember, he said, is to be true to the students.
“They’re little, but they’re little humans. These kids are very, very on target. And they know, and I try to be true to them as much as I can because they know. Kids know when you’re true to them or when you’re not true to them,” he said.
He makes sure when the students enter his classroom, they know they are safe because without that feeling, they will not learn.
He also encourages balance in his students, telling them they need academic success that is matched by good behavior without one outweighing the other, and he celebrates each time the language clicks for the students.
“I look forward to this time of year because I can actually see all the hard work they put in because, we teachers put in that work, but the students, they do their part,” he said.
Noting Mosqueda’s other “hats” through coaching the Johnson soccer team and starting the Johnson Jammers Guitar and Drum Club, Happ said, “Johnson Elementary and Bryan ISD are so fortunate to have Mr. Mosqueda teaching and being a role model for the students. He has definitely captured the kids’ hearts.”