The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Language barriers no match for SE instructor

By Katelyn Needham/ managing editor

Cinatl has built the ESOL program on SE, working to make sure students meet state standards.
Cinatl has built the ESOL program on SE, working to make sure students meet state standards.

Mary Cinatl began her career teaching deaf students. Thirty-six years later, she works with non-native speakers in SE’s developmental ESOL program. 

Throughout that time, her mission has been the same: to give back to students.

“I knew I wanted to be in a helping profession,” Cinatl said. “But I didn’t want to be a social worker. Someone suggested teaching the deaf and I, no pun intended, said sign me up, and that’s what I did. I’m very satisfied with my career. There is never a dull moment.”

Cinatl’s innovative techniques and dedication to the development of the ESOL program and its students led her to receive the Chancellor’s Award for SE Campus.

“Well, it was very exciting and humbling all in the same breath,” Cinatl said. “I’ve been teaching for many years, but to be recognized by your peers is an honor.”

Cinatl uses visual techniques and a hands-on approach to teach her classes, so her students can learn without getting frustrated.

“I always enjoyed being in her classes because she’s very smart and she finds a good way to teach ESOL students,” SE student Morteza Goli said.

Goli came to America from Iran, and Cinatl’s class was the first one he took after arriving.

SE ESOL instructor Mary Cinatl hands back graded homework to student Khoa Tran. Cinatl was recognized by her peers with the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for SE Campus. Photos by Bogdan Sierra Miranda
SE ESOL instructor Mary Cinatl hands back graded homework to student Khoa Tran. Cinatl was recognized by her peers with the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for SE Campus.
Photos by Bogdan Sierra Miranda

“We can improve our skill levels. That’s why most of her students are happy in her class,” he said. “If someone can’t get the point of the lesson, she tries to find another way to explain and she never gives up until all students understand well.”

Cinatl also taught ESOL on NE Campus before moving to SE in 2010.

“She has built that program almost entirely by herself,” SE liberal arts dean Jerry Coats said. “She does an amazing job because to say she cares about the students almost minimizes the work she does. She spends more hours than we can almost pay her for.”

Cinatl worked to make ESOL meet the Texas Success Initiative assessment requirements and to have the course match up with the transitional curriculum. She also holds picnics and events for the students to raise awareness for the program.

“She’s an absolutely terrific teacher,” Coats said. “I do classroom observations, and I see absolutely amazing moments where students share their stories. She gives them opportunities to share their stories as well as learn. She creates this incredible learning community, and I think that’s the most important.”

Cinatl’s husband, Michael Cinatl, also received the Chancellor’s Award the first year the award was given in 1986.

“My husband won the award when he was teaching at NW,” Cinatl said. “We like to joke around that now we have bookends. He has his, and I have mine.”

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