Valerie A. Woodruff
Caridad Alonso Named Delaware Teacher of the Year for 2007
William C. Lewis Elementary school teacher will now vie for national recognition
(Dover, DE.) – Caridad “Charity” Alonso, a Spanish Reading Specialist in grades 1-5 at William C. Lewis Dual Language Elementary School in Wilmington has been chosen as Delaware’s Teacher of the Year for 2007. Her selection marks the first time a Dual Language teacher has been chosen for Delaware’s top educator honor and becomes the forty-third Teacher of the Year since Delaware’s recognition program began in 1965.
As Lieutenant Governor John C. Carney Jr. announced Alonso as Delaware’s “top teacher,” more than 400 invited guests at the Sheraton Inn and Conference Center in Dover, including educators, administrators, legislators, former State Teachers of the Year and business leaders, provided a standing ovation for Delaware’s newest Teacher of the Year who has eleven years of teaching experience including the last eight in the Red Clay Consolidated School District and at Lewis Elementary.
In an earlier letter to the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee, Nancy A. Weaver, Principal at Lewis Elementary, strongly supported Alonso as her choice for Teacher of the Year. “Mrs. Alonso demonstrates the highest level of professional commitment and competency in her work with students and colleagues. To carry out her professional responsibilities, she gives generously of her valuable time, and her work often extends beyond the school day.” Added Weaver, “She exemplifies the highest standards and is a model of bilingualism for children and adults alike.”
In 1991, Alonso received a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in Anthropology and Foreign Languages and Literature from the University of Delaware in Newark. Just five years later, in 1996, Alonso received a Master of Education, Instruction and Exceptional Children and Youth, also from the University of Delaware. During her Masters studies, Alonso became a kindergarten special education teacher with the Christina School District. In 1998, she left the Jennie E. Smith Elementary School in Newark and began her career at Lewis Elementary. At Lewis, she has served as a Foreign Language Elementary teacher, a Spanish HOSTS coordinator, and currently as a Spanish reading specialist.
Alonso has been extremely active in improving the quality of education in Delaware. She has successfully authored numerous education grants for her school programs totaling nearly $43,000. Alonso also developed an immersion foreign language program in Spanish for pre-K and first grade English native speakers. She has trained a cadre of teachers to implement this curriculum using effective instructional strategies. She also serves as an English Language Learner Elementary Support Specialist and provides district-wide monthly professional development workshops.
The newly-selected Teacher of the Year is also an active member of the community. Alonso helped to found El Jardin Espanol/The Spanish Garden, a not-for-profit language immersion preschool in the Wilmington community. Its goal was to provide native English speakers between the ages of two through five a rich second language learning experience for native English speakers, as well as foster a positive attitude towards cultural differences. This program also allowed Alonso to work within Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) guidelines to sponsor degreed teachers from Central and South America. As a result of her work, parents created a separate not-for-profit entity called The Friends of the Spanish Garden to help raise funds for El Jardin Espanol/The Spanish Garden. Alonso is also spearheading an after school tutoring program for former kindergarten and first grade students to help them continue their Spanish literacy skills.
When asked about her philosophy on teaching, Alonso stated, “Teaching is not just a ‘job’ for me. It is my passion. In fact, I know I was born to do this. Each school year, I am dedicated to providing a positive instructional climate where my students feel encouraged, safe and excited to learn.” Added Alonso, “As an educator, I accept the responsibility of becoming a lifelong learner as new ideas, new technology and new ways to approach teaching become available. I thrive on opportunities to learn more, reflect upon these and put them into practice. I also have the challenge as our world becomes more diverse to find ways to meet the educational needs of each student and to make an effort to understand each individual’s experiences.”
The process of selecting Delaware’s Teacher of the Year is very demanding and is designed to find that teacher who is most representative of the entire teaching profession. Through in-class observations, portfolio reviews and consideration of finalists by a representative panel, the process finds that one person who will become this year’s Teacher of the Year for Delaware.
Alonso now inherits an enormous task from outgoing Teacher of the Year Garrett Lydic by representing all teachers in Delaware. She will address community groups, business leaders, legislators, and educational organizations in an effort to inform the public about the status of Delaware schools. She will also become Delaware’s entrant in the national program presented by ING Foundation which is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers and sponsored by Scholastic, Inc.
By action of the General Assembly, Alonso will receive a $5000 grant to use for the educational benefit of her students, as well two personal grants totaling an additional $5000. The remaining 18 school district candidates will each receive a personal grant of $2000.
Alonso will also receive an educational technology package valued at approximately $17,000 from the SMARTer Kids Foundation. The package includes a SMART Board(tm) interactive whiteboard, floor stand and software; an NEC VT465 portable projector from NEC Solutions America; creative- learning software from Immersive Education; and a 32-pad Classroom Performance System from eInstruction Corporation.
The new Teacher of the Year will also receive a Dell laptop computer; an interactive “Whiteboard” from Peripheral Vision, LLC., a $1,000 grant for educational/classroom use from Harcourt Assessment, Inc.; grants from the Delaware State Education Association, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and Delaware Professional Standards Board; a State of Delaware Teacher of the Year license plate from the Division of Motor Vehicles; free graduate-level courses from Delaware’s higher education institutions; a gold watch from the Delaware State Teachers of the Year Association and lunch in the Senate Dining room in Washington D.C. with Senator Thomas R. Carper.
Other organizations that made presentations to the newly-selected Teacher of the Year include: the Delaware Chief School Officers Association; Delaware Association of School Administrators; Delaware School Boards Association; University of Delaware; Delaware State University; Wesley College; Delaware Technical and Community College; Delaware Association of Student Councils; and the Future Educators of America.
Delaware’s Department of Education is committed to promoting the highest quality education for every Delaware student by providing visionary leadership and superior service.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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