Love Elementary’s new principal, Eden Bass, grew up speaking Spanish with her family, but at Wellesley College she chose to major in Middle Eastern studies. Bass said she learned how much she enjoyed teaching during a study abroad program where she volunteered at Jerash Camp in Jordan, working with Palestinian refugees.
“It opened my eyes,” Bass said.
It was the Teach for America program that brought her in 2013 to Houston ISD’s Patrick Henry Middle School, where she spent two years as a math teacher.
When the Arabic Immersion Magnet School (AIMS) opened, Bass applied and joined the founding team there as an Arabic language enrichment teacher. She taught yoga, in Arabic, to pre-K and kindergarten students as well as computer, physical education and, interestingly enough, Spanish.
After the first year, Bass moved to the AIMS leadership team and over the next several years served as magnet coordinator, teacher specialist and assistant principal.
Bass’ time at AIMS further cemented her belief in a dual-language program.
“I’m a big proponent,” she said. “The earlier you learn, the better. I feel like I’ve spent my whole life trying to catch up.”
A self-professed “education nerd”, Bass said she wanted to learn all she could about being a leader in a public school. So in 2018, she got a master’s degree in public school leadership from Columbia University.
When the opportunity came to apply for the role at Love Elementary, which also has a dual-language program in Spanish, Bass took it.
Bass said the small size of the school, similar to AIMS, appealed to her. She also appreciates that Love’s teachers have an average of 14 years of experience.
“Every student feels like they are seen,” she said.
Bass is aware of how the community rallied in 2011, when HISD proposed closing Love because of low enrollment.
“That really impressed me,” she said.
Although she never took formal Spanish classes, Bass said she understands the language well and has told the Love community that her new job gives her more impetus to call her grandmother for additional practice in speaking it.
A 2019 HISD demographics report says that the majority of Love’s students, 86 percent, are Hispanic. Bass said that about half of those students who identify as Hispanic are fluent in Spanish.
“It’s not always taught to the third generation,” she said.
And even though Bass values a close community, she said the school can accommodate about 100 more students at 1120 W. 13th St. The same 2019 HISD report said about half of Love’s student body are zoned students and the other half have transferred in from another zone. As principal, one of Bass’ goals is to get the word out about what Love has to offer.
“I want to build that neighborhood confidence,” Bass said. “People assume that since we do not have ‘magnet’ in our name, we don’t offer any specialty programs. (Love) actually offers a great dual-language program and we are dedicated to serving this neighborhood.”
To do that, Bass wants to use the same approach she did at AIMS, namely getting out into the community, to festivals and other events – when she’s able to do so safely. There are also small tweaks such as HISD providing the school with a new logo.
Changing roles in a virtual environment has been different, Bass said, but the atmosphere has been no less welcoming.
This school year is also the first that Love will have a full-time HISD wraparound coordinator, who will help students and their families with non-academic needs necessary to be successful in school.
Bass said she has enjoyed learning about Love’s unique traditions – like the spring rainbow photo where every class dresses in a different color, and the EarlyAct FirstKnight program from the Rotary Club that knights students for showing certain character traits – and wants to build on them.
“Once we are able to be in groups again, I want to have an open-door policy and be transparent about what we have to offer,” Bass said.