Pasco educator to vie for state teacher of the year

A bilingual Pasco teacher who says he can't imagine doing any other job has been named the Educational Service District 123 Teacher of the Year.

The award, which was handed out the day before school started, went to Pasco for the fifth year in a row.

Longfellow Elementary third-grade bilingual teacher Jaime Silva received the award at the district's annual Welcome Back rally.

Silva has deep Pasco roots. He went to Captain Gray and McGee elementary schools, McLoughlin Middle School and is a graduate of Pasco High. He earned his associates degree at Columbia Basin College and his bachelor's at Washington State University. During his studies, Silva worked as a teacher's aide in Pasco.

While student teaching at Amistad Elementary in Kennewick, Silva got a call from Suzanne Feeney, who was his kindergarten teacher.

She had moved up to become the director of human resources for the Pasco School District and called to tell him about an opening at McGee.

Since then, Silva has worked as a bilingual teacher at James McGee, Emerson, Longfellow, Mark Twain and Maya Angelou elementary schools and as a summer migrant teacher at Whittier, Rowena Chess and Robert Frost elementary schools. At Angelou, he helped launch the Two Way Dual Language program.

Silva also has taught his fellow staff members at the district's annual Spanish Camp for several years.

And he is not the only one in his family to teach Pasco kids.

His younger brother Juan is a second-grade teacher at Virgie Robinson Elementary and his twin brother, Victor, is a third-grade teacher at Frost Elementary.

His sister, Claudia, also started her teaching career in Pasco but has since moved to another district. Jaime and Victor worked together on the dual-language team at Angelou for five years.

"Most people can't tell us apart," Jaime Silva said of his twin. And, he admitted, years ago they tried to fool their teachers.

When asked if sibling rivalry has coming into play with this prestigious award, Silva said, "Not at all. My brothers are really happy for me, but they are surprised too. I'm not the one who likes a lot of attention."

Friends and colleagues reportedly suggested that Silva move into school administration, but he told them he wants to stay in the classroom.

"I am still teaching because I enjoy it," he said. "I don't see myself doing anything but that."

Silva later this month will join the other regional award winners in Olympia to vie for the title of Washington State Teacher of the Year.

"It's been such a pleasure to watch Jaime grow as a teacher over the past years," said Superintendent Saundra Hill. "We're happy that he chose to stay here in his hometown to make a positive difference in the lives of our youngest students."