Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect time to highlight our diverse workforce and the contributions made by our dedicated employees.
We are honored to introduce Erika Villaherrera, who has been a DDI team member for 15 years. She began her career as a teacher assistant for the Early Childhood Services Center for Autism (formerly the Young Autism Program) to get real-life experience in the field. After four months, then came the opportunity to work as a bilingual teacher assistant. “This is where I met and fell in love with a little three-year-old boy. Working with him and his family for the next three years changed my life,” commented Villaherrera. It was in this experience that she went back to school to get her teaching degree and help work with her team to create a positive environment for DDI’s Spanish-speaking families.
Today, she is a Senior Education Behavior Specialist for the same program, continuing to help bridge the gap for Hispanic families.
(Erika and her daughters engaged in distance learning)
Villaherrera and her team have worked hard to create an environment where any teacher can educate and communicate with Spanish-speaking families. This has been accomplished by coordinating bilingual staff across classes and implementing available teacher resources, such as daily communication notebook translations and using a translator for phone calls and individual Zoom sessions throughout this pandemic. “We have become more thoughtful about visual supports being sent in Spanish and English for our students,” Villaherrera shared.
During this pandemic, not only does Villaherrera continue to do her typical job functions, but she also goes above and beyond to ensure that Spanish-speaking families are receiving necessary resources and have the appropriate technology needed for daily instruction.
Her parents emigrated from El Salvador in the late 70s looking for a better life. They met and got married in the United States.
“Being a child of immigrant parents gives me a different perspective to my role as an educator. I saw how my parents struggled with school paperwork and how they felt uncomfortable participating in school events because of the language and culture barriers,” commented Villaherrera. “In my role in DDI, I hope I can help our team to break these barriers and continue to move forward in creating a positive experience for all.”
(Erika, her husband and daughters)
We are so grateful for her ongoing service to the children and families in the program and her commitment to assisting Spanish-speaking children and their parents have an active, successful learning experience.
To read more about Hispanic Heritage Month, visit: