TCU alumna impacts local students through Teach for America program

Bianca Castro wanted to start teaching ever since she visited Spain as part of a study abroad trip.

“I wanted to teach abroad in Spain and one of my friends recommended that I start teaching in the US before going to a different country,” said the Class of 2012 alumna.

Castro heard about Teach for America through a friend, she said. She applied and made it through, even though Teach for America has a nine percent acceptance rate.

Thanks to Teach for America, Castro is now a fourth grade bilingual teacher for T.A. Sims Elementary School in the Fort Worth Independent School District. She teaches her students reading, writing, math, science and social studies in English and Spanish.

Castro said her experience teaching has been very difficult. She has to watch over her students from 7:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., and if there’s after school tutoring, she has to stay even later.

She sometimes feels like she has to be more than a teacher to her students, she said.

“I’m a teacher, but sometimes I feel like a mom,” she said.

However, Castro has described her experience teaching as “very rewarding."

Francisco Camarena, one of Castro’s students, said he liked Castro as a teacher.

“I think Ms. Castro is the best teacher I ever had,” he said. “I wish she was my teacher for fourth grade and fifth grade.”

Teaching at T.A. Sims led Castro to think about issues like immigration and poverty in the U.S. that she had not thought about previously, she said.  All 20 of Castro’s students are on free or reduced breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the school day.

“I went to TCU for four years and I did not realize that eight miles down the road there were children who were on free or reduced lunch and live in poverty,” she said.

However, poverty and immigration issues are not the only problem Castro faces as a teacher.

Many of her students had parents who could not read, so Castro said literacy is a huge issue for her students, especially with math tests.

“Math tests are given in English and if they can’t read English, their math scores are not going to be very good,” she said.

Castro said she also wanted the students to be self-advocates and for them to know the importance of an education after she has left. She also wants to stress the importance of attending college so her students can get good jobs.

“I’m trying to teach the value of being educated, being informed and knowing that they have the right to a great education,” she said.

Another goal Castro said she had was getting her students to be ready for fifth grade and to do well on the STAAR, the state standardized test.

Castro said her students have impacted her life and taught her a lot about who she is.

“From the way I dress to the way I act, they mimic everything,” she said. “They’re just like a mirror to me about how I am as a person. When I’m not acting the way I should, they’re the first to call me out on it and let me know.”