Columbine Elementary Teacher’s Path Serves as Inspiration

“A teacher once told me, ‘it’s not luck, it is the work you have done that is opening the doors for you,’” shared Noelia Silva. When Ms. Silva arrived in the U.S., one of her goals was to go back to school and learn English so she could be one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a teacher. She recalls the opportunity she had as a volunteer at her children’s school. “Being a parent volunteer allowed me to gain confidence and to learn the language,” shared Silva. “Once I learned enough English, I applied for a position here at Columbine – I became an office assistant as well as a Nutrition Services assistant,” says Silva. That opened the door for Ms. Silva in becoming a Preschool Para for the next ten years. 

In 2014, Ms. Silva enrolled in the BUENO Program, allowing her to get a head start in earning her teaching degree. Ms. Silva enrolled in the University of Northern Colorado, “I was in my mid-thirties when I went to college – it was harder to learn how to study again, but I knew I had to work hard if I wanted to be in front of kids, I knew I could do it,” shared Silva. Her main motivation was “to help my community, people like me that came here without knowing the language and the system – I wanted to show them that there are many opportunities out there.”   

Many of Ms. Silva’s colleagues can tell you how lucky they are to have her at Columbine and how wonderful she is. “Ms. Silva spends extra time with each student to make sure that they feel loved, connected, and to celebrate their strengths,” shared Sherie Dike-Wilhelm, Interventionist and Title I Literacy Teacher, Columbine Elementary School. “It’s such a joy to watch someone who loves working with children and helping them be learners capable of managing any challenge.”

It is important for Ms. Silva, who now teaches Kindergarten, to build connections with her students and instill in them the idea that they can do anything they want, as long as they work for it. “She not only creates an environment of safety, love, and caring, but also models for students to become the best learners they can be,” shared Suzy Evans, Instructional Coach/STEM Coordinator, Columbine Elementary School. “She strives every day to infuse STEM principles into her teaching – I’ve never seen a group of students as engaged in their learning. Students look forward to being in school each day with Ms. Silva.”

Ms. Silva recognizes the importance of highlighting each individual student’s skills, and sees their strengths. “I let them know that if they work hard, they can be that doctor they’ve always dreamt of being, or a singer, or an architect,” says Silva. “I fought hard to be a teacher, and it wasn’t easy, but I believe that we are all born to be someone in this world, and I was born to be a teacher.”