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Nicholas Allen | March 9, 2020

Congratulations to high school senior, Damaris Castillo, the recipient of the 2020 National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) student essay competition for grades 9-12. Damaris, a DL/I student at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City, NC, wrote the essay entitled “Our World,” in her second language, English.

The award covered her expenses to attend the annual NABE Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 25-28, 2020. Her parents and her Spanish teacher, Cynthia Bredenberg, also attended to support her as she read her winning essay in both English and Spanish. Damaris wrote about how she lives in two worlds, one English-speaking and one Spanish-speaking. Her love of both worlds is what she cherishes and sees as a bridge to the future. Living in both cultures and languages led her to conclude that they are all part of her world.

To quote her essay, “I guess I don’t really live in two worlds after all. It’s one world, a beautiful world. It’s my world, and I am madly enamorada with it.”  Damaris touched upon the issues that affect all bilinguals. Jordan-Matthews Spanish teacher Cynthia Bredenberg stated that, “This has been a wonderful experience for Damaris and we, at Jordan-Matthews, along with her parents, are so proud of her!”

To learn more about Damaris’ experiences as a DL/I student and the impact that a K-12 DL/I program in Chatham County Schools has had as a whole, listen to the Chatham County Schools interview.

Read the wining essays as submitted to NABE.

Elementary: Sarah Reyna – Kansas City, Missouri
Middle School: Elena Villarreal – Tempe, Arizona
High School: Damaris Castillo – Siler City, North Carolina

Did you know that NABE offers awards for:

  • Elementary, Middle, and High School Essays
  • Outstanding Dissertation
  • DL/I Teacher of the Year
  • DL/I Teacher Preparation Scholarship (College Student)

Winners receive a paid trip to the NABE Conference, a trophy, a certificate, and the opportunity to speak at the Awards Ceremony.  The Teacher of the Year was also awarded a scholarship to attend a Spanish training session in Spain, presented by the Education Attache from Spain, Cristobal Gutierrez Carrera.


How can you be next?

  • Encourage your students to write essays and enter the NABE competition
  • Nominate an outstanding DL/I related dissertation
  • Nominate an amazing DL/I educator for NABE Teacher of the Year
  • Attend the 50th Annual NABE Conference in Houston, Texas, on January 20 – 22, 2021


To help you prepare, see the:

Article excerpted from NC DPI’s newsletter.