Teaching & Learning Champions are faculty & staff who contribute to student learning (Guided Pathways Essential Practice #4). We share their stories to celebrate their dedication to instructional excellence & innovation in a series of spotlight articles. #ACCExcellence

Meet Mariela Prato-Williams, Associate Professor of Spanish!

Tell us a little bit about what you do!

I am Mariela Prato-Williams and I am an Associate Professor of Spanish. I work in the Foreign Language Department. I teach Spanish I, II, and III. In addition to my teaching, I contribute to my department by Co-Chairing the Adjunct Evaluation Committee. I am also the Co-chair of the Special Events Committee. This past year I started to participate on a college-wide committee: The Evaluation Committee. This year I decided to take part in the Peer Observation Program. It has been a great experience to work with people from all departments who strive to give our students the best possible education.

Three words that best describe you?

Three words that best describe me are hardworking individual, family-oriented, flexible.

Teaching during a pandemic can be challenging, what advice would you give other instructors on how to persist for our students?

Be flexible! We are going through some uncertain times. We are all stressed about life in 2020 and 2021. Since we cannot see each other in person, let’s try to help students connect among themselves in our virtual (synchronous and asynchronous classes). I have found that breaking my synchronous classes into small groups in our Zoom meetings to complete assignments, has been a wonderful experience. It is marvelous to see how students help each other out with pronunciation and grammar. When I come into the groups, I like to see how they are working together and getting to know each other.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. It was wonderful to be raised in the capital of this South American country. I truly enjoy the outdoors. Caracas is a valley surrounded by mountains. The beaches were also close by and we would enjoy going there often.

I come from a large family. I have 7 aunts and 7 uncles and many cousins. My maternal grandmother, abuelita Teresa, would make sure that we got together as a family as often as possible. It was nice to grow up with so many people with such diverse personalities.

Share about your educational background.

I enrolled in Tarrant County College in the DFW area. I liked the small size of the classes and the professors were available for questions after class. I was a Spanish Tutor in the learning lab. For foreign students, that was a priority. My biology teacher told me about Phi Theta Kappa and how I could help them with a couple of environmental projects. I became a member of Phi Theta Kappa. This allowed me to transfer to the University of North Texas with a scholarship. I took a Spanish literature class because I always loved reading. I fell in love with what my professors were doing. I wanted to do that for a living, could I? I decided to change my major to Spanish and stay to do my master’s in Spanish there as well. My husband was transferred to Austin and I was fortunate to obtain a job with ACC. After working at ACC for a couple of years, I started my doctoral studies at Texas A&M. The commuting from Austin to College Station was too much for me. After a few semesters, I decided to stop commuting. I already had my dream job here at ACC! I keep current by attending Conferences.

The best advice I ever received was:

My mother has always helped others. She would often tell us to be kind to others no matter what they look like (haz el bien y no mires a quién = Do good and don’t look at who). I grew up seeing my mother helping her family and community. I consider myself lucky to have her as a mother. I strive to help my students (current and past) and my colleagues.

I love working at ACC because

its diversity of students and colleagues makes me want to be a better teacher and colleague.

What Mariela’s colleagues say about her:

“Professor Prato-Williams engages in an impactful and meaningful way with all of her students…she helps administer the Course Challenge Exams to students who are not hers. She does this with care, kindness, and professionalism. She receives only positive reviews from her actual students who continue to sign up for her higher-level courses. They are always in great hands. When there are students who need a caring, positive, and understanding professor, while still maintaining the bar high for course outcomes, I know that I can count on Professor Prato-Williams. She will gladly take in an Informal Class Transfer, or late add student, even if her class is full. Her care, kindness, effectiveness in the classroom, and passion for what she does is unparalleled.”

-Vanessa Lazo, Department Chair of Foreign Language

Connect with Mariela via email: mpratowi@austincc.edu

Recommend a Colleague:

Do you know someone who is a champion of teaching & learning? Send their name & why you’re nominating them to TLEDcomms@austincc.edu.