FOR someone who was bullied as a child because she could not speak English well, Filipino-American Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher has come a long way.
Prueher, who teaches English at the Dodson Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), was selected as one of the top five California Teachers of the Year from among the state’s nearly 300,000 teachers.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to receive this award,” she said in a statement.
“But this is not just an award but an opportunity to talk to students, parents and fellow teachers all over California about what it’s like to be an immigrant . . . and to be suspected of having a learning disability because of language needs.”
The 34-year-old immigrated to the United States when she was nine years old. She recalled that in her early years in school, she was bullied because she did not speak English well.
That experience has made her a strong advocate for immigrants, who make up nearly a quarter of the student population in Los Angeles County, learning the English language.
Marquez-Prueher is one of the 16 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year for 2014-2015.
She was honored at a luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles County Office of Education and attended by 700 people, including the top educators and education administrators in the county.
“She is an exemplary model for other teachers,” Dodson School Vice Principal Agnes Pitlik said.
“She is a leader in promoting partnerships with parents and the community.”
Marquez-Prueher, whose family hails from Cavite, is the first Filipina and first Philippine-born teacher to win the award.
The competition is part of the National Teacher of the Year program, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious recognition program that shines a spotlight on excellence in teaching.
In September this year, Marquez-Prueher and another Filipina, Maricar Fortuno Catalan, who is also with LAUSD, were selected as Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year.
It was the first time in the county’s history that two Filipino-American teachers made it to the top 16.
They were considered for the California Teachers of the Year competition, and Marquez-Prueher was selected as one of the state’s top five, as announced recently by State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson. She will serve as a standard-bearer for the teaching profession statewide.
The award will be formally presented to Marquez-Prueher at a special recognition event in Sacramento in February next year.