Maria Elena Galán, a third-grade teacher at HISD’s Scroggins Elementary School, has been named the 2014 Bilingual Teacher of the Year by the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE).
“This award acknowledges your work as an exceptionally skilled and dedicated teacher in a bilingual program,” read the notification letter from NABE. “Your application contained outstanding testimonials and descriptions of your professional role as a bilingual teacher.”
Galán was selected for her ability to inspire students in two languages and her dedicated service to the school and its surrounding community.
“Maria Elena Galán is a very dedicated and committed educator,” said Principal San Juana Elizondo. “She often uses her personal time to make sure that students have experiences that they would otherwise not be able to be a part of. Ms. Galan truly wants to make a difference in the lives of the children that she teaches.”
“I have known Ms. Maria Galán for 18 years,” added Kathleen Taylor, an instructional coordinator at Eliot Elementary School, “and during that time, I have had the privilege of watching her grow from a novice teacher…to an inspirational role model for both her students and fellow teachers. Ms. Galan sets high goals for herself and her students…but she does not stop with just academics. She believes (in) educating the whole child. That is why the after-school sports program is something she makes sure happens no matter (where) she is.”
In an explanation of her teaching philosophy, Galán noted that she is a firm believer in the value of bilingual education. “Sharing knowledge is powerful,” she wrote, “but having the ability to share that knowledge in two languages is twice as powerful.”
Since becoming a teacher in 1995, Galán has coordinated both after-school sports programs and community service projects at two different campuses. These programs have helped students develop confidence, athletic ability, and social skills, while simultaneously tightening bonds within the Denver Harbor community.
These activities, she wrote, have “caused my students and their families to feel a greater sense of citizenship, responsibility, and belonging.”
Galán will be formally recognized during an awards luncheon at the annual NABE conference in San Diego, Calif., on Feb. 14, 2014. She will also receive a $500 prize, which can be applied either to professional development or classroom supplies.