PALMDALE – Maria Dorn was named Teacher of the Year for the California Association for Bilingual Education. The ceremony is normally held during a yearly conference but with the pandemic shutting down activities, Dorn was one of many whose celebration was sidelined this year.
“Each year, the California Association for Bilingual Education requests teachers’ names in the dual immersion program who are exemplary…. Therefore, the local CABE Chapter nominated Maria Dorn to be recognized,” said Raul Maldonado, Superintendent of the Palmdale School District. “We are very proud of Mrs. Dorn for winning the CABE Teacher of the Year.”
“The one thing I wish is that my students could be in school,” Dorn said. “I see them on Zoom and I look at the desks in my class and imagine them here… they work hard for me and they are learning. That is the best award I could have.”
Dorn teaches kindergarten in the dual immersion plaza at Manzanita School. Manzanita’s dual program is Kindergarten to 4th, and will add 5th grade next year. All the district’s dual immersion schools use the same program and same curriculum.
“This is a wonderful affirmation of the dual immersion program,” said Manzanita School Principal Susan Summers. “Having a teacher recognized as teacher of the year shows the quality of program the district offers.”
Dorn came to the United States when she was 18. She started college and spoke some English but knew she needed to improve her language skills. Her father encouraged her by saying, “Education is not a race of speed, but of endurance.”
Dorn has taught kindergarten and first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades. She works with English Language Learner students and has had a variety of languages represented, from Arabic to Tagalog and various Spanish languages. Her own experience as a bilingual person and an English Learner student has given her a global perspective on the needs of a dual immersion student.
Palmdale has had a number of teachers of the year, including Luz Alvarez, Nancy Olguin, Carolina Gutierrez, Miriam Torres, Mirna Panus, and Nancy Alatorre, who was both CABE and the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) teacher of the year.
Palmdale School District has a sister dual immersion school in Peru — Colegio Maria Alvarado -Lima High School — and has hosted exchange students in past years.
[Information via news release from the Palmdale School District.]