American Education Week
Providing an opportunity for communities across the country to celebrate educators' contributions to their communities and get to know the scope of their work on their students' behalf.
On behalf of our students, educators, administrators, caregivers, and community we want to congratulate you for your dedication, hard work, and countless hours teaching and supporting our diverse students and families during American Education Week, which, this year, runs through November 14th- 18th. Whether you are an educator, a custodian, a family liaison, a secretary, a paraprofessional, a bus driver, a resource officer, a translator/interpreter or working in any other capacity, we want to acknowledge and thank you for your leadership, teamwork, and collegiality. We value and treasure you!
Interview with Tracy Pereira
Nominee for "City of Revere’s 2022 Exceptional Latino Educator for State of Latino Education"
By: Anne Bolthrunis
Ms. Pereira is a BCBA (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst) at both the Staff Sargent James J. Hill Elementary School (Hill) and the Beachmont School.
We sat down in a glass cubicle – scientifically referred as “genius walls” in the Learning Common giving us permission to record our interview. She laughs easily and often.
BCBAs are professionals who help solve behavioral issues. Their field is most commonly associated with treating children on the autism spectrum.
Her position in each school means that she, “wears many hats.” “It can really looks very different depending on the day. I could be in an office at an IEP meeting, or entering data, or training staff. I could be consulting with a teacher or in a behavioral management crisis situation, so it’s all different.”
When asked about her philosophy on teaching, she sits thoughtfully for a minute and answers. “Working with students, meeting them where they are, using equitable strategies to reach all students regardless of their backgrounds, working with different students to get them where they need to be, and putting a lot of value into seeing their growth. That might look different for different kids based on the standards that we have and adjusting those standards to meet the students where they are.”
Tracy says she enjoys working and forming meaningful bonds with elementary students and their families. She added that coming from a Latino household has had a positive impact on her relationships in both the Hill School and Beachmont, especially with the families.
As a Portuguese speaker, she frequently finds herself communicating with many families, including those with students she does not necessarily service. “I think it’s nice for them (families) to have someone whom they can speak and relate to – well, I speak Portuguese, so to speak with them, in Portuguese, they have an ally or a safe person, even if they’re not a student I would consult on, but a face of someone who can greet them in Portuguese when they’re walking down the hall, and they think, “oh, I feel safe, I feel like this is part of my home”, so it’s nice to be able to be that person.”
Chris Freisen, Beachmont School Principal, lauded Tracy, “Tracy has been an incredible resource to the Beachmont School Community. She does a fantastic job as our BCBA and has not only become a support for students, but staff as well. She is a true professional -- we value the work she does at “the Hive.”
Revere is a largely Hispanic community and Ms. Pereira believes that coming from a similar background has made a positive impact on how she communicates with families and students.
With an ever-growing Brazilian population, speaking Portuguese has been an asset in her work; sharing a similar culture has helped her forge relationships with the families of students she works with -- “I think it’s really helps me know what it’s like to live in an obviously Latino home and understand the norms for them when communicating with families to understand what is considered normal in their households.”
She continues, “I am truly blessed to be able to speak the language, and be able to relate certain things and messages across because sometimes, with apps like Google Translate or Dojo, they might translate things and just misword it, so it’s good to be able to clarify.”
Until four years, ago, the district had one BCBA for all schools, so being split between only two schools has helped her in becoming an integral part in both schools - to administration, families, and students.
When asked about her relationships with staff, she says that considering the fact that she is split between two schools, it can take some time for members of the school community to get to know her and understand her role in the district. Frequently, BCBAs are pulled in many different directions, and sometimes staff members don’t necessarily understand her role.
“It is a newer role to the staff, so they have to understand what it is that I do, or how I can help, or what the process is for getting services for their students and relaying that information. But it is kind of an island, you’re still figuring it out, but it’s been a cool experience so far.”
“I really enjoy being able to make connections with the schools, and make connections with the admin as well, being able to get involved with school culture, I get to say, “These are my schools!”
Melissa Lomas, Principal of the Hill school, added “It is a pleasure and privilege to work with Tracy. She not only supports our students when they need that support the most, but she is also able to model for the adults how to react appropriately to potentially challenging situations with students.”
I asked Ms. Pereira about her reaction when she found out about the nomination, and she laughed before answering, “I saw the external email and I assumed that it was maybe spam…But once I found out that it was legit, I was like, “Wow, this is such an honor!” And it’s nice to be recognized, because I feel like my job itself, I don’t have a classroom, but I do service children, and it’s nice that someone is noticing that, and being recognized is such an honor for me.”