Giselle Vento Banda has a long history at Waco Independent School District — she attended the district’s school as a student. “As a disoriented ESL student, walking into the choir room taught me that I was a member of the gaggle and had arrived in a safe space where I could be me,” she said. Now, she wants to return the favor to the school community that “gracefully invested and welcomed me into its circle.”
A small but impactful way she motivates her students is to call them “scholars.” Vento Banda heard a friend used the term, and it resonated with her. “I want children to be globally minded, lifelong learners. I also want them to know that their teachers are scholars, too. After all, children become the imprint we leave in their minds. When I refer to them as ‘scholars,’ my students’ behaviors shift, and they take pride in learning,” she said.
Vento Banda’s reach goes beyond Waco ISD. She also serves as the assistant director of the Youth Chorus of Central Texas, a community choral group for 3rd to 12th graders from diverse educational and economic backgrounds. “This organization holds a special place in my heart, for I, too, was in a children’s chorus in Mexico,” Vento Banda said.
In one of her “40 Under 40” nomination letters, a colleague wrote, “As Giselle grows, her kids grow! Music has become their passion under Ms. Vento Banda’s guidance, and they have so many more opportunities to develop their musical arts learning because of her. Her passion, courage and creativity is only highlighted by her personal desire to continue to develop as a professional music educator. Giselle is magnificent.”