Bobbi Ciriza Houtchens
San Bernardino, CA
Bobbi has had a long and storied career as an educator and finally retired after 40 years of teaching English and English language development. She currently lives in Los Angeles works as a consultant to support teachers who have English learners in their classrooms. Before her retirement, Bobbi worked in a variety of classrooms, from traditional to migrant labor camps. She also worked with educators in Oaxaca, Mexico. Bobbi’s formal academic training consisted of earning a B.A. and Licenciado from Elbert Covell College at the University of the Pacific, completing the requirements for three majors: Latin American Politics, Teaching English as a Second Language, and Spanish. Bobbi also earned a M.A. in Bilingual/Bicultural Literacy from California State University San Bernardino. Her inspiration comes from the stories of her immigrant mother, who often suffered great cruelties such as being sprayed by school nurses with insecticide for simply being an immigrant unable to speak English. Bobbi has also worked as a U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow in the Office of English Language Acquisition.
Why do you teach? I have always felt compelled to teach in order to make the world a better place, even if it is just for one student at a time. I started when I was very young, bribing neighborhood kids with candy to come to “school” in my backyard, and I haven’t stopped since! A large part of my motivation was to make sure that the horrible things that happened to my mother in school never happened to other students.
What do you love about teaching? It’s difficult to list all that I love about teaching. I love the sound of “aaaahhh” when students finally get something they have been struggling with. I love the connection I get with students and their families, the satisfaction on their faces when they accomplish what they believed was impossible and knowing that I had a part in that satisfaction. I especially love hearing from students years after they have been in my classes and having them tell me that my words still ring in their ears, especially when life is tough. I still continue to inspire them somehow. That is priceless and gives my life meaning!!
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you? I had two teachers who inspired me: Mrs. Bose in second and third grades, who turned me into a reader and writer. She loved me and believed I was going to be a great writer. Mr. Winsor, my high school Spanish teacher, who also loved me and believed that I was going to do something great some day and that I could do it better if I was fluent in Spanish. They were both tough, demanding, dedicated teachers.