Student Success Stories - Meet Juan Carlos

It was the desire to share knowledge that attracted Juan Carlos Portillo to the field of education and ultimately to the Bilingual Teaching Assistant program of the Carlos Rosario School. The paraprofessional with E.L. Hayes Public Charter School proved hard work and determination can pay off.

Becoming a full time teacher’s assistant is a step forward in a career that has always been Juan’s passion. He has always loved to work with Children. In El Salvador he volunteered at a primary school helping students with the basics – reading and writing. “I am fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with children. I love helping children. I love my job. I cannot complain,” Juan said.

In 2015, Juan moved from El Salvador to the U.S. to join his family members. Newly arrived, Juan faced a language barrier. “I didn’t know any English words,” he said. Juan felt nervous that his dreams were in danger. He followed his uncle’s advice to attend ESL classes, listen to music, and watch TV Shows in English to learn quickly.

In July 2018, Juan enrolled in the Carlos Rosario School’s Bilingual Teaching Assistant training. “This program woke me up and reminded me who I am,” he said. Through the program, Juan learned pedagogic strategies, practiced his patience and persevered until the end.

Finding the time to go to school wasn’t easy! Juan had to find a balance between his jobs at 2 different restaurants, commuting and his studies. With only a couple of hours of rest each day, he took the challenge head on and kept fighting to improve his life. When it came to learning English Juan contends that he “was always looking for opportunities and wanted to move on. So I took my courses seriously.”

In January 2019, Juan graduated from the Carlos Rosario School. He was a recipient of the School’s scholarship program and started college at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), majoring in early childhood education.

Juan is very proud of the School. ‘’Carlos Rosario School is the number 1 considering all the services they offer to students. I have never seen a school with such a strong Students Services Department that still meets the needs of students,” he said.

Our graduate is thankful of the school for giving him the opportunity to grow. “Carlos Rosario School is very supportive. Without the program [Bilingual Teaching Assistant training] I don’t think I could have found a job I really like,” he said.

Juan has big dreams for the future. He plans to continue his education. Juan wants to become a teacher. He is planning to apply for the Carlos Rosario School Scholarship program again and hopes to enroll in UDC this spring.