Veronica Perez, an art teacher at Arlington Traditional Elementary School, and Eugenio Fischer Sanchez, a Spanish teacher at Walt Whitman Middle School in Fairfax County, were honored Tuesday night with the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award.
They each received checks for $2,000 and commemorative plaques during Marymount Universitys School of Education and Human Services Award Dinner on campus.
Perez was inspired to get an education by her mother and grandmother, both of whom had to leave school early.
Looking at the hard life of these two wonderful women motivated me to do better for myself, the native of Puerto Rico wrote in her award application.
She went on to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree from InterAmerican University of San German in Puerto Rico, a masters degree in foreign language at George Mason University and did graduate work in studio art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Holly Hawthorne, principal at Arlington Traditional, called Perez a one-in-a-million teacher.
Her enthusiasm for art and teaching is contagious, Hawthorne said. When entering our school, one feels like they have entered an art museum. Childrens artwork welcomes you in the showcase, in the main lobby, and throughout the hallways.
In addition, Perez brings community artists and performers into her school for assemblies, plans special projects and field trips for her classes, and is known for providing elaborate decorations for student plays.
She also ensures that the Latino community and other cultures are represented in school- wide events and is a district-wide cultural competence facilitator.
In 2011, Perez, who is a practicing artist, taught fourth graders at her school how to use photography to document their lives during an eight-week period. She then traveled to a remote village in Uganda to teach fifth grade students how to use digital cameras to express themselves. The photo exhibit has been on display in both countries.
Fischer Sanchez, who grew up in Miami, is known for his dedication to his students, fellow educators and the community.
I have never seen a teacher who knows all of his students the way Mr. Fischer Sanchez does, said Lesley Mitchell, World Language Department chair at Whitman Middle School. When asked about any of his students, he can tell you about their interests, their opinions, their families and how they are doing in their other classes. He knows them so well because they trust him as a mentor and also because he gives his time meeting their families and checking in with their other teachers.
He teaches Spanish for fluent speakers, coordinates International Night and Hispanic Heritage Month at the school, co-directs the group Men of Vision and Purpose and is a Parents as Educational Partners Teacher at Mount Vernon High School.
Hes active in the Hispanic community as a mentor, volunteers with local churches and constantly seeks positive professional Hispanic speakers to visit his classes and inspire his students. He also mentors other educators.
Mr. Fischer Sanchez teaches our teachers and administrators Spanish, but he also teaches them about the culture and varied socio-economic environments from which our Hispanic students have come, Mitchell said. He gives the teachers the tools that they can use to better serve our Hispanic students.
Fischer Sanchez earned his bachelors degree in history from the University of Miami and a masters degree in education from Nova Southeastern University.
The award is given by the Victoria D. de Sanchez Endowment at Marymount University in order to recognize and encourage teachers who have demonstrated exemplary results working with area Hispanic students. The endowment was established by the Hispanic Youth Foundation of Northern Virginia, which was created by a group of Hispanic business owners.
Im very grateful and feel very blessed that we have the financial resources to honor these teachers, said Celestino Beltran, one of the Hispanic Youth Foundations founders. We want to keep Hispanic kids in school, and these teachers are incredible educators, role models and mentors.
This years awards were presented by Leveo Sanchez III, grandson of Victoria D. de Sanchez, who was a leader in establishing schools, training teachers, and developing textbooks and curricula across Latin America. She also was active in the Reading is Fundamental and Head Start programs in the United States.
Veronica Perez, an art teacher at Arlington Traditional Elementary School, and Eugenio Fischer Sanchez, a Spanish teacher at Walt Whitman Middle School, were honored with the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award. They each received a check for $2,000 and a commemorative plaque.
Eugenio Fischer Sanchez, Leveo Sanchez III, Veronica Perez and Celestino Beltran at Marymount Universitys School of Education and Human Services Award Dinner. Fischer Sanchez and Perez were co-winners of the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award.