“My Language Learners Seemed Like Ghosts”: A Rural Teacher’s Transformational Journey Implementing the Seal of Biliteracy

Keywords: Bilingual Education, Rural Teacher Education, English Learners, Emergent Bilinguals, Seal of Biliteracy, Teacher practice


This paper describes the personal and professional journey taken by one secondary Spanish teacher to implement the Seal of Biliteracy (SoBL) for English learners (ELs) in a rural Florida school district. The teacher’s goal was to promote bilingual pride among her ELs and to validate their bilingual abilities, which had been frequently unrecognized in the community. This promising practice in a rural Florida district demonstrated two important transformations: first was the teacher’s personal views about bilingualism as an asset rather than a deficit, and second was the instructional practices she employed  and fierce advocacy for the ELs in her rural secondary school. Ultimately, the work of the teacher disrupted inequities that her bilingual students faced and positively affected her EL students’ views of bilingualism and their lives in the rural school community.


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Author Biography

Nidza Marichal, University of Florida

Nidza V. Marichal is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Florida, disseminating research in the context of Latinx/English Learners rural education and supporting rural educators in their work with Latinx students and families. Dr. Marichal is co-principal investigator of a five-year professional development grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Project STELLAR (Supporting Teachers and Educators of English Language Learners Across Rural Settings), providing high quality, place-based professional development to teachers and educational leaders of English Learners. Her dissertation research, Teacher Knowledge and Secondary English Learners in a Rural Community examined secondary teacher knowledge related to the teaching and learning of Latinx students in a rural community. This work added to the limited literature on rural secondary teachers of Latinx students and advanced understandings of the diversity and complexity of rural communities. Prior to her research career, Dr. Marichal spent 20 years teaching Spanish Language and Culture at the K-12 level. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she received her BS from Yale University, and MA and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Florida. She is president of the North Central Florida League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) council, seeking to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for Hispanic Americans. Dr. Marichal is this year's first place winner of the American Educational Research Association's (AERA) Rural Education SIG dissertation award.


How to Cite
Marichal, N., Rosario Roldán, A., & Coady, M. (2021). “My Language Learners Seemed Like Ghosts”: A Rural Teacher’s Transformational Journey Implementing the Seal of Biliteracy . The Rural Educator, 42(1), 52-56. https://doi.org/10.35608/ruraled.v42i1.1180
Promising Practices