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Student-Turned-Teacher Jovana Alejandro Returns to Her Roots

As new second grade Dual Language instructor Jovana Alejandro set up her classroom at W.L. Morse, she reflected on her time as a student in the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns. A member of the Class of 2013, she is extremely excited to begin teaching at her old elementary school on September 10th.

In particular, she recalls how many of her teachers acted as a resource when she was growing up and needed additional support with English comprehension. “It was always my career goal to come back to the district,” said Alejandro. “I had amazing teachers when I was growing up who pushed me and encouraged me to become a teacher.” Now she wants to pay it forward and do the same for her students.

Alejandro and fellow teacher Sandra Tavares will work together as a team throughout the school year, and each instructor will have a homeroom of approximately 20 students. A native Spanish speaker with roots in the Dominican Republic, Alejandro will teach in Spanish, while Tavares will guide students in English. 

“The ultimate goal of the Dual Language Program is for English-speaking students to become bi-lingual,” said Alejandro. “This will assist them in the future and act as a strength as they search for careers, and starting at a young age is critical. The Spanish-speaking students, meanwhile, will maintain their language as they strengthen their English language skills, and that will continue into adulthood.”

Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Instruction Dr. Gail Duffy, who coordinates the program, reiterated how mastery of a second language plays an important role in the world we live in. “Our society grows smaller and smaller each day, and the Dual Language Program allows our students to better understand both the differences that exist among people as well as the similarities that unite us all.”

After graduating from Sleepy Hollow High School, Alejandro earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from The State University of New York at Cortland. She then worked for a year in real estate but returned to her passion at SUNY Cortland and received a Master of Science degree in Education in 2019. She was a fifth-grade bilingual teacher in the East Ramapo school district for one year, and she also attended a three-day institute at the Columbia University Teachers College this summer to learn how to implement the Reading and Writing Program curriculum in Spanish.

Alejandro holds many fond memories from the district. She specifically recalled a day in elementary school where students traveled from classroom to classroom with a passport and learned about other countries as they sampled signature dishes. She hopes to create memories with her students and watch them grow and develop.