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About Miss Bea


Miss Bea says, "Write to me! I want to hear from you!" Miss Bea retired in 2011 after 26 years of teaching Spanish in high school in Glynn County and middle school in Suwanee! She now devotes her time to promoting her Learn to Swim with Miss Bea dvd, her children and grandchildren, her home and garden. She is enjoying writing in her blogs and getting in touch with her former swimming students and their children. Get in touch.

Miss Bea is not teaching swimming lessons at this time. She wants to give workshops to swim teachers and to help parents teach their own children to swim, be safe and have fun in the water from a young age.

The story of SwimBea Productions:

I have been teaching swimming since 1971 to children, babies and adults in Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia. I loved teaching babies but there just weren't any guidelines out there. So, I developed my own. For many years I used videotapes of my students as teaching tools and just for fun! In 1999 Swim Bea Productions was founded with the purpose of producing a video for parents and swim instructors to teach babies and young children how to swim. November of 2005 the "Learn to Swim with Miss Bea - A Nadar con la Maestra Beatriz" DVD was released to benefit the English and Spanish speaking world. The video is 35 minutes each, the English version and the Spanish version. You can watch and learn from the children, parents and Miss Bea how to teach children with easy, step-by-step instructions. In 2007 I presented at the International Conference of The World Aquatic Babies and Children Network in St Petersburg, Florida. I have sold more than one thousand dvds all over the world on this website, on Amazon.com and through swim stores listed in the "links" tab. I hope to reach many more of you to give you confidence in teaching your child to swim.
Miss Bea's swim stories...

For as long as I can remember I have been around the water, in the ocean at Varadero Beach, and in various pools. I learned how to swim, but I forgot that I knew. Then one summer, I remember my dad throwing me in the ocean at the Havana Yacht Club. I refused to go in the water. I was scared of the clear water and the tiny fish swimming around. Mostly I looked at the bottom that seemed so far away. Suddenly I found myself in the water swimming away and laughing (after I got over my annoyance at my dad.) Years later when I questioned him about it, he said that I was too stubborn and the best way to deal with me was to not argue and just do it! Of course I never do that with my students!!

I remember swim lessons in Miami, and being on the swim team in New Berlin High School, Wisconsin where we spent my teen years. I first studied for the Red Cross Water Instructor course at the University of Wisconsin, and probably ten other times during my years of teaching. But never learning about teaching babies how to swim and survive in the water.
In 1971 I taught my first swim lessons to children at Pine Crest School Day camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and loved it.

When we briefly lived in St. Petersburg, Florida 1973, I taught swimming at the YMCA. That is where I first learned to teach babies how to swim. Through the book Teach Your Tot to Swim by Pauline Petsel I learned how to communicate with parents and small children about the joys and freedom of swimming. Her book gave me confidence in my skills. For years I ordered the little book (now out of print) for all of my classes. I am grateful to her since many of the tricks I have developed through the years originated with her.
From 1975 to 1978 I taught swimming in Forest City, North Carolina where we lived.
From 1980 to 1983 I taught in St. Simons Island, Georgia. We moved to Davie, Florida and I briefly taught there through the YWCA. Then we moved back to St. Simons Island and taught swimming every summer. I think I have taught more that two thousand children while developing the swim program that I share now with you in my DVD.
For five years I videotaped my students and edited and wrote the script. The dvd was released in 2005 and more than 500 have been sold through this website, Amazon.com and other websites and swim instructors. The dvd has been sold to Europe and Central and South America, Asia and Saudi Arabia and many other places. It is my hope that many instructors, parents and children will benefit by learning skills and becoming competent swimmers while being safe and enjoying the water.

My story growing up:

I am a Cuban-American, and I lived in Cuba, the beautiful, magical island until 1960. In my heart are hints of fantasies of my childhood: the sweet white sugar cane; the warm brown sugar at my dad's sugar mill; the bittersweet sounds and smells of killing, cooking and eating a roasted pig; the juicy mangoes in the swimming pool; the sparkling, clear ocean water of Varadero Beach at Abuela's house; my First Communion; the walk home for lunch with my sisters; the costumes and makeup for the "carnavales"; the birthday party piñatas; and the joyful, family gatherings at my grandparents' house.

When I was fourteen, we moved to Wisconsin. For my parents, getting used to the snow was as hard as adapting to the American culture. My sisters and I were not allowed to speak Spanish at home. While my father recorded himself speaking to eliminate his accent, my mother would make us laugh saying words like "poodles" for puddles. We celebrated my Quinceañera, but I also had a sweet 16 party. When Cuba was in the news, I researched and reported in my social studies classes, and I memorized Patrick Henry's speech "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" for the Junior Miss Pageant. I enjoyed some notoriety when the school paper wrote an article about me as the only Cuban-American at my high school when I became an American citizen.

In 1972, I graduated from the University of Florida with a BA-ED, Spanish major. I married a wonderful American man and began my family. I now have three grown-up children and a grandchild you can see in the video. I had no Spanish accent, and very few people even knew I was Cuban. I was totally Americanized. It was only when I became a Spanish teacher at Brunswick High School in 1985 that I discovered an excitement and energy in finding and sharing my hispanidad. I took students on field trips to St. Augustine, Tampa, and Miami. I found some of the magic of Cuba in every country I studied and taught. One year, while teaching a poetry unit, I wrote a bilingual poem, La Bandera, about a lost country searching for the meaning of its flag. I applied for a National Humanities Grant and became a finalist. The same year I won the Georgia International Teacher Fellowship Grant. I studied in Spain and then in Costa Rica with Georgia Southern University. I took students to Spain and Costa Rica. As I traveled by myself and with students, I marveled at the magic of being in the countries that I studied, dreamed about, and taught.

My story as a Spanish teacher:

While I worked at Brunswick High School for 24 years, my Spanish program incorporated "real language in real situations" and is performance based. Teaching this way requires that students participate in field experiences and community service. Students went to the elementary school during their class time to help in the ESOL classes and to conduct mini Spanish lessons. Some students taught Spanish once a week in the after school program at an elementary school. I feel very strongly that studying in the culture and language is more effective than studying in the classroom and have taken students on numerous trips abroad.

I have received several technology grants, and in my classroom, students produce original materials such as Power Point Presentations and multi-media lessons. Tapes of student presentations, skits, and field trips are shown for encouragement, comparison and interpretation. Students e-mail other students and obtain global information on the Internet to expand their perspectives. Realia obtained from personal travel abroad stimulate students to inquire and explore the meaning of language to a deeper level within a cultural contex.

We view the Spanish channel to accustom the students to listen to other native speakers. Students sing to popular and traditional songs while practicing new vocabulary, improving pronunciation and reviewing grammar. Students enjoy saying the phrases in Spanish that they hear on the radio or in movies. My students play games such as Go Fish ("Pesca") totally in Spanish. Students receive "pesos" for oral work. As they strive to master the language in a fun way, students become aware of strategies that work for them. Students learn language interactively by changing from receptive to productive activities. They describe pictures and fill out forms from my travels.

The students research, evaluate, represent, and respond to real issues such as the Cuban Refugee crisis. Students react to a variety of authentic stimuli (newspapers, pictures, crafts, ads) exercising critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and problem-solving. Students express themselves orally and in writing in the language. Students help each other correct their creative writing assignments such as current events reports and journal entries. These challenges and subsequent successes improve their self-esteem and cause them to strive for increased mastery of the language.

In the last five years, we have had an influx of Hispanics into our community. It is important to ease the communication gap and increase acceptance and adjustments of our new immigrants. Before, I taught my students how to buy in a Spanish country. Now I teach them how to sell if they work at a store and how to relate to non-English speakers in their jobs now and in their future. For example, my students not only study how to exchange money in a foreign country, but also how, if they were bank tellers, they would help a Spanish speaker open a checking account, make a deposit, and ask for a balance. My students developed Spanish lessons for our local banks and English lessons for local organizations that work with the non-English speakers in our area.

Through my travels I have developed an even greater hunger to grow more and share with my students the opportunities and knowledge they will need to be successful in our global society. The Summer of 2001 I was privileged to participate in a five week study abroad program in Peru through a Fulbright-Hays Grant. With the information I learned and the materials I accumulated I have created a curriculum unit for my students which I shared with other teachers at FLAG 2002. With the videos I took, I made an i-movie of my experiences. I'm finding many ways to integrate these lessons into my teaching.

In 2008 I felt my need to move to the Atlanta area to be near my grandchildren. I since moved to Cumming GA and taught 3 years at Riverwatch MIddle School of Forsyth County Schools. In 2005 I wrote the following for this website: "I have grown as a person because I strive to be great teacher. When lesson planning I consider the National Standards and the needs of my community. But, through it all I work so that my students will awaken to expand their horizons and to grow, to yearn to be more, to touch another culture, to search for the magic." I have found an inspiring staff and administration that is stretching me to be a better teacher, continuing to grow and give of myself experiencing the magic and enjoying every day!.
I am writing now in 2012
Sadly, the Foreign Language program at the Forsyth Coounty School System has been cut back each of the last 3 years and so I decided after 26 years of teaching to retire. I think that I might teach Spanish again in some capacity, at some time and so I have kept my favorite "stuff." I would like to be a guest speaker but not a substitute!! Get in touch, right now I am devoting my time to my four grandchildren and my husband and my swim dvd. But I am always open to what God has in store. I am taking care of my health and if I watch my weight and continue to exercise I can contribute to the world for another 30 years!

My Resume as a Spanish Teacher:
2008 to 2011: Spanish teacher at Riverwatch Middle School in Suwanee, GA.; 8th grade Spanish 1
1984 to 2008: Spanish teacher at Brunswick High School; Spanish I-V.
1995 AATSP of Georgia Teacher of the Year
1997 Master's in Education from Georgia Southern University
2000 National Board Certification
2001 Fulbright-Hays Study Abroad Grant for study in Peru

Travel abroad:
Summer 2001 5 weeks in Peru Fulbright-Hays Grant
Spring Break 2001 Ecuador with 8 students
Summer 2000 Puerto Rico AATSP conference
Spring Break 1999 Spain with 15 students
Spring Break 1998 Costa Rica with 10 students
Summer 1996 Costa Rica Georgia Southern University Study Abroad Program
Summer 1995 Mexico AATSP conference in San Diego
Summer 1993 - Spain Georgia International Teacher Fellowship Grant: Researched the origins of Latin American children's literature and songs in Andalucían popular culture. Wrote a paper and presented at FLAG in 1994.
1950-1960 born and lived in Cuba

Leadership Activities as a Spanish Teacher
Membership FLAG, AATSP 1985-2009
Chair the Glynn County Foreign Language Curriculum Committee 1998-2000
Initiated the Glynn County Foreign Language Report with recommendations for foreign language programs in the elementary and middle schools 2000
Member of the State Curriculum task force for Foreign Language Quality Core Curriculum
Co-chairperson and founder of the Georgia Coastal Academic Alliance for Foreign Languages 1991 - 94
Member of SACS team to evaluate Ware County High School 1995
FLAG Articulation Committee 1991
Sponsor of the AATSP National Spanish Honor Society 1991-2005
AATSP National Spanish Exam participants 1985-2009 state and national winners
Georgia Southern Oratorical Contest student winners, 1985-2004
Governor's Honors nominees and participants 1995-2004
Sponsored a Student Teacher from Georgia Southern University 1995,1999
Started and sponsored the BHS Y Club (State YMCA of Georgia) 1985-1998
Speaker at Rotary Club with students about Ecuador 2001
Teacher of Glynn County Staff development classes 1994
ranslated bilingual signs for the beaches of St. Simons Island 1998
Translated the history of the St. Simons' Lighthouse for the Georgia Historical Society
With the Spanish 3/4 class, compiling a bilingual brochure, Coastal Georgia Spanish History
Catholic Church president of the Council of Catholic Women, Teacher, Parish CouncilChristian Women's Club Board of Directors, 1986-88
Kelvin Grove Neighborhood Association President, 1995-97
Glynn County Gifted Association, Secretary, 1991

Fulbright-Hays Study Abroad Grant for study in Peru 2001
Georgia Learn and Serve Grant for a tutoring program at BHS with matching funds from the Bank of America Foundation where students who tutor other students get paid 2001
Collaborating teacher for a Georgia Innovation Technology Grant to develop curriculum-related lessons.
Received a first place award in the International Media Festival 2001
Technology Grant from King and Prince Seafood, 1999
Georgia's State Innovation Adoption Grant: Project Talk, 1998
Georgia AATSP High School Teacher of the Year, 1995
Georgia HOPE Scholarship recipient for Master's Degree
International Education Georgia Teacher Fellowship Grant 1993 to study in Spain for 4 weeks. Presented at FLAG on children's Spanish songs 1994.
Finalist for the NEH Fellowship for Foreign Language Teachers, 1993.

Publications and programs:
Developed a Little Havana video featuring Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez 1987
Made a video for middle school students preparing for foreign language study 1991
Initiated, coordinated, and taught the Early Bird Foreign Language Program, a before-school foreign language program for students of elementary schools. In 1991-1995 with over 200 children in seven schools with eight teachers and three languages
Initiated and taught adult Spanish programs in the evenings and middle school Spanish programs after school 1991-98
Students participated in Georgia Southern University GSAMS courses, 1995, 1996.
Brought the Boston Flamenco Ballet Company to Glynn County for over 800 students 2000
Bilingual poems published in the BHS literary magazine 1996- 2004

Now producer and director of SWIM WITH MISS BEA DVD teaching babies and infants how to swim in English and Spanish!!!


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