EAGAN, Minn.-- She came to the United States as a young girl who spoke no english, but a love for education and the teaching profession have drastically changed the life of Magaly Miralles.
Miralles has become the first educator from Minnesota to win the George I. Sanchez Award, a prestigious national human rights award from the National Education Association. It is presented annually by the NEA to an individual whose contributions have made significant improvements in educational opportunities and advanced the achievement of equal opportunity for Hispanics.
Miralles originally received the Human Rights Award presented by Education Minnesota in 2008. Education Minnesota then forwarded her name for consideration by the NEA for its national award.
A K-5 ELL (English Language Learners) teacher at Red Pine Elementary in Eagan, Miralles started pilot programs in collaborative teaching and in extended services for ELLs in kindergarten. A core part of her educational practice is getting to know the children and their families and connecting the families with the community services they often need.
"I can think of no one more deserving of national recognition than Magaly," said Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher. "All Minnesotans should be proud of her and her accomplishments."
Miralles knows firsthand the needs of ELL families. She's a native of Venezuela who came to the United States as an 8-year-old. She knew virtually no English and had no understanding of North American culture when she arrived. The girl who "went home in tears every afternoon," is now an adult teacher who's dedicated her life to making sure no other children experience that anguish.
"Magaly is the best ELL teacher I have ever worked with and one of the finest educators I have ever had the honor to work beside," said Red Pine Elementary principal Gary Anger.
The Sanchez award is named after George I. Sanchez (1906-1972). He was an educator, historian and author in the United States, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. He devoted 50 years of his life to the education of Mexican, Navajo and black children and is known as the "father" of the movement for quality education for Mexican-Americans.
This year's award will be presented at the NEA's annual Human and Civil Rights Award Dinner on July 2 at the New Orleans Convention Center.