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Northern Virginia Hispanic Teachers of the Year Announced

Thursday, May 16, 2013
The Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award was presented to two teachers this year: Ana Mayra Irizarry-Vaughan, a math teacher at Freedom High School in Prince William County, and Myriam Lorenzo, a Spanish teacher at Stafford High School in Stafford County.

The award, established by the Hispanic Youth Foundation of Northern Virginia, is named for Mrs. de Sanchez, a remarkable teacher who was a leader in establishing schools, training teachers, and developing textbooks and curricula for schools across Latin America. She also was active in the Reading is Fun-damental and Head Start programs in the United States. In 2008, the award was endowed at Marymount University so that outstanding Hispanic teachers in the community will continue to be recognized.

The awards were presented at Marymount University’s annual Education program dinner and award ceremony. Victoria Sanchez, granddaughter of Victoria D. de Sanchez, presented the award and a $2,000 check to Mayra Irizarry-Vaughan, and her brother, Leveo Sanchez, presented the award and check to Myriam Lorenzo.

Ana Mayra Irizarry-Vaughan
was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She has been a mathematics educator for more than 35 years, teaching all levels – from Algebra I for ESL learners to pre-calculus and Advanced Placement calculus. Irizarry-Vaughan is now chair of the mathematics department at Freedom High School, where she developed the AP calculus program. Before her arrival, only one student had passed the exam; now more than 70% are passing. She dedicates numerous hours before and after school, as well as during the weekends to help her students. Her teaching philosophy is based upon three principles: “teaching the curriculum to the highest standard; making the curriculum relevant and fun for the students; and teaching from the heart not just the head.”

She previously taught in Florida, where she developed an AP calculus program that resulted in her school having the highest number of Latino students pass the AP calculus exam in the nation. This earned her recognition by the College Board, and she was on the panel that gave the 2007 College Board Report to the Nation. She continues to work with the College Board to share best practices for teaching math. Irizarry-Vaughan has also received numerous awards for her teaching excellence, including the 2005 Broward County (FL) Mathematics Teacher of the Year Award and being named a 2005 and ʼ06 Florida Sunshine State Scholars Teacher of Excellence. Earlier, when living in California, she was named 1997 Teacher of Excellence for the Pasadena School District.

Robert Schraml, assistant principal of Freedom H.S., wrote in his letter of recommendation, “I have not met a more dedicated and devoted teacher. She is passionate about our students’ success, not just those in her class, and works tirelessly to assist them during the school day and long after it ends.” Richard Martinez, fellow assistant principal, wrote, “She can easily move into the administrative ranks, but truly enjoys being in the trenches with her students and exploring the world of numbers.”

Accepting the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award, Irizarry-Vaughan said, “Teaching takes patience and heart.” To Marymount’s Education graduates, who are just beginning their teaching careers, she urged, “Please teach with your heart, not just your mind.”

Myriam Lorenzo was raised in Aguada, Puerto Rico. She has taught all levels of Spanish, including Advanced Placement (AP), at Stafford High School for the past nine years. Lorenzo also teaches Stafford’s first Spanish for Heritage Speakers course, which prepares native Spanish speakers for the Advance Placement Exam. For the past three year, Lorenzo has prepared her students to participate in the World Language Day competition at Mary Washington University, where they have won first place.

In addition, she created the International Club by merging the Spanish, German, and French clubs and integrating many of their activities, especially volunteer efforts such as helping Hurricane Sandy victims, sending letters and care packages to three U.S. Army Companies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and assisting Stafford families facing hard times. She plans to use part of her award money to create a school fund for families and students in need.

Lorenzo found her passion for teaching when asked to teach part time while attending law school. Over the years, she has taught subjects ranging from computers to ESL in seven countries, including Germany and South Korea.

Lorenzo seeks to promote a global perspective, both in her extracurricular efforts, and in the classroom. She has twice been recognized as Teacher of the Year. Ms. Lorenzo says, “My goal for my students is that they leave my classroom with a solid foundation and understanding that they can do and accomplish great things; that education can open many doors; and that success is determined not by money but by our positive contributions to society.”

Joseph Lewis, principal of Stafford High, wrote in his letter of recommendation, “Mrs. Lorenzo can be found before and after school huddled with students seeking help, in need of tutoring and, many times, just [wanting] to talk. What is remarkable is that many of these students are not her own, but from other teachers.” Captain Nicholas Kubick (U.S. Army), whose troops received care packages from International Club students, wrote “She does more than just teach classes; she invests in the growth of her students and community.”

Accepting the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award, Lorenzo stated, “It’s an honor to be a teacher. The students are my inspiration, and this award belongs to them.”
– (left to right) Leveo Sanchez, Myriam Lorenzo, Victoria Sanchez, Ana Mayra Irizarry-Vaughan

– (left to right) Ana Mayra Irizarry-Vaughan; Celestino M. Beltran of the Hispanic Youth Foundation; and Myriam Lorenzo