Magic City Acceptance Academy, an innovative and welcoming public charter school in the Greater Birmingham Area, is nearing the end of its inaugural academic year. We met up with Nora Samayoa, one of the school’s founding teachers (and expert on all things Spanish), to learn more about what makes this school so unique.
Meet Nora Samayoa, a founding teacher at Magic City Acceptance Academy
When you first meet Nora Samayoa, you can quickly see why students love her class. With a bright personality and an affinity for teaching Spanish, Nora is excellent at introducing young minds to vibrant cultures and new experiences.
Although Nora has been teaching Spanish for four years, this is her first year teaching at Magic City Acceptance Academy—a brand-new, tuition-free public charter school in Homewood that provides a welcoming and inclusive environment to students of all backgrounds.
So, why did Nora choose to teach at Magic City Acceptance Academy?
“I was introduced to the school by our chief academic advisor, Charity Jackson. She was actually my coach with Teach For America, so we’ve known each other for a while. Right away, I really liked that Magic City Acceptance Academy is all about accepting people for who they are. Everybody wants to be accepted, and it’s really important in minority groups.”Nora Samayoa
Introducing students to vibrant cultures and new experiences
As a native Spanish speaker, one of Nora’s favorite aspects of her role at Magic City Acceptance Academy is the opportunity to introduce students to her culture.
“At the beginning of the year, I told my students that my hope in this class is for them to be culturally aware. A lot of these students have been in one place their entire lives, and it’s very important for them to know that other cultures have different foods, difference dances, difference music and more. I want these students to learn Spanish, but equally as importantly I want them to be active citizens that are culturally aware. By doing so, I feel that I am holding the school’s core values of accepting other people for who they are.”Nora Samayoa
According to Nora, the students are incredibly eager to learn. Currently, Magic City Acceptance Academy offers courses for students of all skill levels: Exploratory Spanish, Spanish 1-4 and a Spanish for Native Speakers class. But it’s Nora’s unique teaching style that keep the students engaged.
“In Mexico, every state has a unique traditional type of dance called a baile folklórico. We’ve been learning about these dances lately and the kids absolutely love it! They’re enamored with the beautiful dresses that the traditional dancers wear, and they keep asking how to make skirts that colorful.
We just finished recording the students introducing themselves in Spanish. One of our goals down the line is to connect students with pen pals in Mexico so they can form new friendships and learn about each other’s culture.”Nora Samayoa
The best part? For Nora, it has to be Magic City Acceptance Academy’s mission.
“The whole idea of this school is to focus on students who may have dropped out of other schools or don’t feel comfortable in their current learning environment. I really fell in love with that vision, and it’s so inspiring to see other faculty and staff do everything they can to make the students feel welcome. We have students that were bullied at other schools for how they identify, and just didn’t feel welcome. Here, their whole demeanor has changed and we see them flourish. I’ve even had students reach out to their friends at other schools and tell them that they have to transfer to Magic City Acceptance Academy—to me, that’s powerful.”Nora Samayoa
Learn more about the incredible teachers at Magic City Acceptance Academy
As you can tell, Bham Now loves the mission of Magic City Acceptance Academy and we greatly admire the stellar teachers—like Nora Samayoa—that make the school possible. Last year, we met the STEM teachers and the Fine Arts staff as they shared their vision for Magic City Acceptance Academy moving forward.
“As one of the founding teachers of this school, and on behalf of my fellow faculty and staff here, I want to say that we really are trying our best to support these students and their growth. I don’t worry if I have a bad evening or a bad night, because I know that when I come in to Magic City Acceptance Academy the next day one of my students will make me smile. Whether they tell me a silly joke, get me a random gift or tell me that I taught a lesson well, my students surprise me every day. We are very excited to see what the future holds for Magic City Acceptance Academy!”Nora Samayoa