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Michelle Marrero Named Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year | News

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Michelle Marrero Named Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year
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From Marymount University:

Michelle Marrero of Alexandria, VA, a teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Freedom High School in Woodbridge, VA, received the 2011 Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award at Marymount University’s Education Dinner on May 3.
The award, established by the Hispanic Youth Foundation, is named for Mrs. de Sanchez, a remarkable teacher who was a leader in establishing schools, training teachers, and developing textbooks and curricula for schools across Latin America. She also was active in the Reading is Fun-damental and Head Start programs in the United States. In 2008, the award was endowed at Marymount University so that outstanding Hispanic teachers in the community will continue to be recognized.
Leveo Sanchez, grandson of Victoria D. de Sanchez and co-chair of the selection committee, presented the award and a $2,000 check to Michelle Marrero, saying that she carries forward his grandmother’s work, helping not only students but also their families and communities. 
Marrero has taught at Freedom High School for five years and co-chairs the ESOL Department. After Marrero and her colleague instituted a team-teaching support model for ESOL students in World History, the SOL passing rate rose from 60% to 90% for these students. She and her department co-chair also began a college cohort to support ESOL students through the college preparation and application process. Recognizing the important role that parents play in their children’s academic success, Marrero is coordinator for the Parents as Educational Partners Program (PEP), through which parent involvement has increased dramatically in recent years. In addition, she mentors new teachers, promotes multicultural awareness, and serves as the ESOL on-site summer school coordinator.
One of Marrero’s primary objectives is to get students to graduate high school and go on to higher education. “A lot of our kids are now going on to four-year colleges,” she explains. “They come back and tell me how happy they are that I had high expectations and encouraged them. Two are even coming back to work with me this summer in the ESOL Scholars Program as mentors.”
Phyllis Giasson, ESOL coordinator for Prince William County, is thrilled that Marrero’s efforts are being recognized. “She is vested in the success of every student,” Giasson points out. “She has helped so many kids get into college, assisting them with applications and finding scholarships. The word has spread, and even kids from other schools come to her.” Richard Martinez, assistant principal at Freedom High School, adds, “Students have become more active under her counsel. They have improved and moved on to more difficult coursework.” He continues, “Students also come to her with personal problems. Michelle goes above and beyond – even collecting clothes and food for families. She knows what her kids need.”
Marrero, who is originally from Puerto Rico, moved to Alexandria when she was in the sixth grade. She attended Groveton Elementary School, Carl Sandburg Middle School, and Mount Vernon High School. For college, she returned to Puerto Rico, earning her bachelor’s degree and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Becoming a teacher came naturally to Marrero; her mother, Carmen Ivette Colon is an ESOL teacher at Edison High School in Alexandria. In 2006, Marrero made Alexandria her home again, as well. Looking ahead, Marrero says, “I want to finish my PhD and continue working with students and encouraging them to go on with their education. I tell them, ‘Don’t let anything stand in your way. You have the power to make all of your dreams come true.’” And she helps them fulfill those dreams.

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