Lisa Mendoza is an outstanding individual fully dedicated to the success of young people. She has been working as an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher for 21 years, covering both Whiting’s middle school and high school. She provides support for students in grades 6-12 and works with a wide range of English proficiency levels. Her role comes down to teaching English to students who are new or first learning the language and making sure they are getting the support they need to succeed.
“When you’re helping ELL students, your job is never truly done,” Mendoza said. “You’re constantly providing resources for them so that they can develop their minds and skills, all while learning both about themselves and about yourself. At the end of the day, it’s fulfilling to be a part of this experience.”
She initially attended Purdue University Calumet (now Purdue University Northwest) as an engineering major, but her work as a camp counselor at Camp Lawrence made her decide to switch gears and pursue a career in education. Prior to her current position, she was a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Franklin Elementary School (now named Washington Elementary School) for 10 years. She also taught English to adults for some time in both East Chicago and Whiting.
Mendoza was interested in working in this field because her first language was Spanish, like many of her students now. She was part of the bilingual program when she was young, so she wanted to be someone students could turn to for guidance. In general, she loves working with young people and seeing them grow over time.
“As an instructor, my primary job is to build strong, healthy relationships and make the students feel comfortable,” Mendoza said. “It usually takes time, but getting to know them and being there to help them cultivate their skills really shows them that you genuinely care.”
Mendoza went into some detail about her daily mindset as an ELL teacher and how it drives her to reach her goals.
“What really motivates me in my position is working with students and their families and creating a strong connection with them,” Mendoza said. “Understanding how people operate and how I can help them succeed is what my position truly revolves around. I think relationships are important to make and maintain, and I really enjoy learning about and working with these young people.”
Mendoza stated that the most valuable skill someone in her position can have is flexibility.
“An ELL teacher needs to be able to adapt to different students and situations,” Mendoza said. “A teacher can’t be set in their ways; they have to be willing to change themselves for the benefit of their students.”
Mendoza is an instructor that students can trust and rely on for helping them learn the English language. Her passion for supporting others is only further augmented by her fellow faculty and staff, who have been so helpful during these trying times.
“I am content with my position and where I am at today,” Mendoza said. “It can be hard work, but I always feel like my work is never done, and that sort of thinking keeps pushing me to do my best to help these students.”