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Teacher profile: Ms. Soto

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Photo by Claire Duarte

In room S7A, our school’s animation teacher and EL coordinator Ms. Soto resides. You can find traces of these things within her room: posters about the principles of animation, grammar rules, and the walls lined with state-of-the-art Mac computers. It’s a haven for the students she teaches: animation and EL alike.

From an early age, Ms. Soto has had an affinity with the arts: her first love being photography. “I really appreciated the whole process,” she says. “When I did that, photography was not digital. So, I did the darkroom.” Eventually, that love translated into the world of filmmaking: the mother of animation.

But despite having this deep connection: while attending UCLA, Ms. Soto was undeclared. “I took art classes, [I took] general ed classes. And I actually ended up liking psychology. I majored in psychology,” she said. “So, for a little bit, I considered going in that direction.” As an avid volunteer, Ms. Soto enjoyed working and educating kids. Around the same time, some of her friends were becoming teachers: and she ended up going down the same path.

When starting in LAUSD, Ms. Soto taught on the east side. Interestingly with holding both an English and Arts teaching credential, she taught classes in both subjects. Despite what kind of demand this called for, Ms. Soto liked it! When recalling the experience, she said: “I get bored sometimes doing the same thing. So, it was always interesting to add something else to the mix.”

Additionally, she got her start in EL at these schools. Formally known as the English Language Development program, it is the system in which students who come to California and are not considered fluent in English are put in to make their journey toward proficiency. In high schools, this is done via ELD classes which are separated into standard and advanced classes: Ms. Soto teaches the standard classes.

Here at ERHS, there are 58 kids in the program, ranging in languages such as Spanish, Tagalog, Russian, and Thai. As the EL coordinator, Ms. Soto is responsible for tracking each kid’s progress, reporting that to their parents, and informing the school administration of the program in general. To her, the most frustrating part is not having enough time to juggle between being the best teacher and EL coordinator for all the students she works with. Despite that, the most fulfilling part of the role is being able to help these kids and “looking into what the real situation is and identifying real gaps and real problems and then finding solutions… I feel really useful.”

As for the topic of ERHS: it’s been seven years going strong. (Here was also the first place where she exclusively taught art!) When asked about her favorite thing about this school she said, “I think it has a real sense of community. There’s teachers that have been here forever… There’s a lot of investment from students… It means something to be part of the school.”

But when she’s away from the hectic life of being a teacher, you can find Ms. Soto spending time with her son and her friends– or traveling. Her answer to the most favorite place she’s been goes like this: “Over the winter break, my entire family and I went to Cancun. The beaches are gorgeous… I still dream about that!”

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