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Eduarda ‘Lala’ Anselmo named PECS teacher of the year

Eduarda “Lala” Anselmo with some of the tools she uses to teach English in the PECS Creek immersion classroom. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

BRIGHTON — Eduarda “Lala” Anselmo is Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School’s teacher of the year for 2020-2021.

Anselmo teaches English language arts in the school’s Creek immersion program. She has been with the program since its inception in 2015 and helped to develop the English portion of the curriculum. She teaches students English for one hour and 45 minutes every day, the rest of the immersion program is in Creek only.

Anselmo is state certified in foreign languages and in elementary education. She taught Spanish at Okeechobee High School before joining PECS. The 13-year veteran teacher also coaches Creek teachers in how to teach a foreign language.

“The goal of the immersion program is to develop Creek speakers from infancy and give them the tools to be able to thrive in society,” Anselmo said.

The children have been together since they were babies or toddlers. The program has eight students, including six in second grade and two in first grade. The immersion students are separated from the rest of the school and are grouped according to their skill level.

Anselmo and Jade Osceola, a Creek language teacher in the program, coordinate their curriculums together. The same lessons are reinforced in both languages.

“The program has the same curriculum as the rest of the school, but in Creek,” Anselmo said. “These kids are getting
all that plus the extra enrichment of the language. They are getting the experience of a lifetime.”

The students are given a comprehensive education, including math, science and social studies, which are incorporated into the program in Creek. Next year, statewide standardized tests will be given to the immersion students for the first time.

Anselmo’s ethnicity is Mexican. She enjoys being able to help the tribe save its language.

“It’s so enriching,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do something for my people. Our native language died and I don’t
even know what it was. I wish someone would have done that for my people.”

Anselmo does what she can to pass along her heritage to her own children and feels lucky that she gets to learn about the Seminole culture and language.

“I love listening to these immersion kids,” she said. “I try to incorporate as much Seminole culture as I can into my lessons. I love this school, it feels like a family.”

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at