By Jack Orloff
Teacher of The Year finalist Angie Baca-Ross, a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Joslin Elementary School, has served the district for four years, making a tremendous impact on her community by showing the value in communication between parents and caregivers.
"Being involved with my families is about getting to know each family respectfully––their struggles, their joys, their goals," she said. "It is about being an ally and a bridge to help them achieve success."
Baca-Ross has dedicated two decades to serving students of all ages in the field of education through various roles. She has taught students at the university, community college, high school, and now the elementary school level and continues to enjoy teaching.
"Those experiences have given me a unique perspective. It is easy for me to visualize my kindergarten students in their future college classrooms or in their successful and fulfilling careers," Baca-Ross said. "Whether I am teaching kindergartners or college students, I am still in front of a classroom doing what I love."
When asked about what teacher of the year meant to her, Baca-Ross said it doesn't mean you're the best teacher out there.
"It means that others noticed the passion I feel for my field and for my students,” she said. “Others noticed my willingness to support my colleagues while challenging myself to be the best teacher that I can be for my students."
Joslin principal Chaolin Chang says Baca-Ross demonstrates what the Joslin culture is all about.
"She demonstrates three different key points in her classroom, which are equity, accountability, and community,” Chang said. “She makes sure everyone is treated fairly, that student progress is being made while also instilling community in the classroom. She does an amazing job getting parents involved, and we are so proud to have her."
Baca-Ross also serves on the Superintendent's Advisory Committee, campus CAC, and PTA. She has continued to be a presence in the lives of her students and their families even during the pandemic.
"Due to the pandemic, it is more challenging for students to engage in learning," Chang said. "Mrs. Baca-Ross actively communicates with parents and provides support so that her students continue to thrive regardless of the difficult circumstances. She also conducts home visits and makes materials available to the students who are learning from home."
Baca-Ross hopes that her relationship with students and their families will have a positive impact on their lives.
Austin ISD’s annual Salute event honors educators throughout the district for their excellence in the classroom. Baca-Ross is one of four finalists for Teacher of the Year. Tune in at 6:30 p.m. May 20 to watch the virtual awards ceremony.