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AZ 2016 ELL Teacher of the Year

Sedona AZ (December 5, 2016) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced that the 2016 Arizona English Language Learner (ELL) Teacher of the Year is Victoria Gonzales of Starlight Park Elementary in the Cartwright School District in west Phoenix.

“It is an honor to recognize Victoria Gonzales as such an outstanding teacher,” said Superintendent Douglas. “Her passion and commitment as an educator of Arizona English language learners was clear when her students and colleagues shared how proud and excited they were to see her selected for this honor.”

Gonzales will be honored at a banquet on Wednesday, December 7 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson. This event is being held in conjunction with the Arizona Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition Services (OELAS) 2016 Conference, “Cultivating Language for Life.”

AZ School Superintendent Diane Douglas announces 2016 ELL Teacher of Year

The process for choosing the 2016 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year began with the call for applications in May 2016. Judging then took place in October, with a panel of peers facilitated by OELAS ultimately choosing the honoree.

On Oct. 28, Superintendent Douglas and officials from OELAS made a surprise visit to Starlight Park Elementary to inform Gonzales that she had been selected as the 2016 Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year.

When asked to describe her educational philosophy as is relates to teaching ELL students, Gonzales responded, “My philosophy is that students learn best when they feel and know that I care and believe in their ability for success. I believe an educator must cultivate a classroom environment that encourages students to take chances, think independently, and respect other individuals. This environment opens pathways for language development, which directly impacts academic growth. As an ELL teacher I understand the importance of adjusting my instructional strategies to meet the individual language levels and needs of all students. Keeping in mind that student participation, discussion and discourse have a direct correlation to the internalization of new learning.”

Asked about her most rewarding experience teaching ELL students, Gonzales stated, “I love seeing my students independently organize a small group to read a book and they are laughing and enjoying the story. I am thrilled when two kids are reading and I hear them decide to sound out a word or reread a sentence. Then not only have I taught them to read, I have also created readers that enjoy books.”

Victoria Gonzales was born and raised in Silver City, New Mexico, where she graduated from Western New Mexico University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education before earning her Master’s degree with honors in Early Childhood Education at Northern Arizona University. Gonzales has been a part of the Cartwright School District for 19 years, her entire career, and is currently a first grade Structured English Immersion teacher. She has taught ELL students for the past 15 years.

Additional information about Gonzales and the Arizona ELL Teacher of the Year Award can be found at www.azed.gov/english-language-learners/arizona-ell-teacher-of-the-year/.

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