Jasmin Sanchez, a senior secondary social studies major in the UMD College of Education, was selected as the winner of the Middle States Council for the Social Studies’ 2018 Bernice Samalonis Award.
Currently, Sanchez is student-teaching at Buck Lodge Middle School in Prince George’s County. After graduation, Sanchez, a Germantown, Maryland, native and a graduate of Clarksburg High School, plans to return home to teach in Montgomery County, an open contract offer in hand.
“Montgomery County is home,” Sanchez said. “I was born and raised there and am a product of the MCPS system. I want to give back to the county that helped me build the skills I needed to be a great student and allowed me to go to Maryland and achieve my dreams of being a teacher.”
Alison Jovanovic, who serves as the Professional Development Schools Co-Coordinator for Secondary Social Studies Education and has taught Jasmin several courses, said that Sanchez is very detail-oriented in her lessons, making sure she reaches her students at all levels, while also remaining humble and giving back to her community. Jovanovic pointed out that Sanchez, who speaks both English and Spanish, excels at making the ESOL students in her classes feel integrated into the classroom.
“Jasmin is very student-centered and focused on meeting the needs of independent learners,” Jovanovic said. “It’s impressive, considering the skill sets of the students and their learning needs, and Jasmin modifying her lessons to accommodate them. All of them are engaged in critical thinking and challenged. She recognizes students where they’re at and recognizes their individual potential.”
In doing this, Sanchez is following in the footsteps of Ms. Najera, the eighth grade Spanish teacher who made her feel comfortable among the older students in the high-school level course and inspired Sanchez to become a teacher in the first place. Mr. Landefeld, her ninth grade U.S. history teacher, helped Sanchez decide to teach social studies.
The MSCSS awards ceremony took place on March 2 at The Westin Tysons Corner in Falls Church, Virginia, but Sanchez was unable to attend because of high winds that had a major impact on the DC region that day. However, Jovanovic presented the award to Sanchez at Buck Lodge Middle School the following Monday.
“I honestly wasn't expecting to win the award,” Sanchez said. “My supervisor, Alison, was really the one to push me to do it so I really owe it all to her. But I feel extremely blessed to have won — it's always great to be recognized for your hard work.”