Waco, TX (FOX 44) – Before Mia Guillen was a teacher in Waco ISD, she worked in healthcare.

“We had parents that could not read the discharge summaries for their for their children or even read the education forms that the physicians would send home,” says Guillen.

It bothered her knowing patients had to sign documents they couldn’t fully consent to because they didn’t understand English.

“So I was like, yeah, I want to be a reading teacher. I want to teach people how to read,” Guillen says.

11 years later, Mrs. Guillen is a bilingual 5th-grade teacher at Crestview Elementary. 75% of her class is Spanish speaking.

“What I do in this classroom, specifically, is that I will deliver instruction in English. Then, if I know that they don’t understand or they need clarification, I’ll make sure to come back in Spanish and say it too,” says Guillen.

Today, she’s also one of 99 WISD teachers to receive a Teacher Incentive Allotment, or TIA.

“I’m in the middle of calls and I just started bawling,” says Guillen.

TIA is a reward from the state for high-performing teachers.

“We do put in the work. You know, your lesson planning and you’re working till eight, nine, 10, 11 o’clock at night and working 12 to 13-hour days,” Guillen says.

It’s also an award for excellent student growth.

“I knew that we had exceptional growth, but I wasn’t aware of how truly how much growth we had actually made,” says Guillen.

She believes that is the true reward.

“To know that all of those kids were prepared and there’s no one left behind. Those gaps were filled. That’s what actually gives you joy,” says the former teacher of the year.

She adds her main concern is helping create productive citizens for tomorrow.