Elizabeth “Bissa” Zamboldi, English Teacher, Lowell High School, San Francisco Unified School District, San Francisco, California
Ms. Zamboldi received her Masters Degree in Education from George Washington University and when coming to teach in San Francisco, she “fell in love with teaching ESL.”
At the time Ms. Zamboldi received the Carlston Family Foundation Outstanding Teacher of America Award, she was teaching at James O’Connell High School in San Francisco, California. However, she was nominated by several students who attended Mission High School while she was teaching there. Mission High School is a school with an enrollment of about 890 students. A majority of the students are Hispanic (44%), African American (23%) and Asian (16%) and the remainder Caucasian, Filipino and Native American. Currently, Ms. Zamoldi is teaching English at Lowell High School in San Francisco, California.
Ms. Zamboldi was nominated for the Award by several former students. One student, Karla Llanos, gave an impressive description of Ms. Zamboldi. Karla had traveled from Mexico to the United States at the age of 11 and overcame intense family problems, severe poverty and several other issues to be accepted to UC Berkeley where she will graduate with a double major in Social Welfare and Sociology. She expects to go on to Graduate School following graduation. Karla attended UC Berkeley over the strong objection of her step-father and says, “I would not have been able to get where I am today without the constant support and guidance of Ms. Zamboldi. To this day I am a constant visitor to Ms. Zamboldi’s Classes to speak to other minority students and I can clearly see how Ms. Zamboldi is doing the same for other students as she did for me. She continues to make a difference in the lives of her students.”
Angelica Jimenez graduated from UC Berkeley in 2005 with a degree in Anthropology. Angelica also attended Mission High School after arriving in the United States without speaking any English and she was totally unprepared for the gangs and violence in her neighborhood and at school. While a majority of her friends were satisfied with simply graduating from high school, Angela thought she wanted to go to college. However, until she met Ms. Zamboldi, she had no idea what she needed to do in order to make that dream a reality. “Ms. Zamboldi helped me to see the importance of learning to speak and read English. She took the time to teach me about the various scholarships available and provided information and education that had only been available to the “college bound” students. I even stayed in high school an extra year to learn the language and became Ms. Zamboldi’s teaching aide. I am so thankful that she decided to be a teacher and that I had the opportunity to know her.”
Carlos Jimenez met Ms. Zamboldi his first day in high school, after being in the United States for only 8 months and not speaking any English. Carlos quickly developed a respect for Ms. Zamboldi. He said, “Ms. Zamboldi was the only person I felt comfortable speaking English to….And, after I graduated, I would often go to her school to get help with my college English papers. She never refused to help me….she understood the challenges that newcomers like me face in the country and in school. Because of her, I was able to learn the language, graduate from Mission High School and be accepted to San Francisco State University.”
Like Carlos, Marco Iniguez immigrated to the United States without knowing any English. Ms. Zamboldi pushed him to achieve what she knew he was capable of and he went on to attend UC Davis, majoring in Managerial Economics. Marco says, “Ms. Zamboldi is one of the most influential teachers I have ever had.”
As an English and ESL teacher in Bay Area High Schools, Ms. Zamboldi is consistently described as tough, but fair. She changed her career path from editing and writing law books to teaching. Her students are extremely grateful she did. They all describer her as a teacher who takes an honest, personal interest in her students. She takes the time to meet with entire families of her students to discuss and encourage their educational future.
After demonstrating exceptional leadership skills, Ms. Zamboldi quickly moved from teacher to department Chair. As a recognized leader, she is now frequently involved in district curriculum development and creating programs that focus on minority students and with immigrant educational planning. She provides community programs for minority parents and regularly presents at several conferences and workshops about bi-lingual education programs. Ms. Zamboldi believes every student has a dream for a better education and future. She makes a point to ensure she does everything she can to prepare each of her students as well as possible in order to make their dreams come true.