It took a little bit of time for the shock to wear off and the tears to set in, but eventually Dr. Evangeline Aguirre realized that she is indeed the School District of Palm Beach County’s Teacher of the Year, and tissues became a necessity.
Dr. Avossa, School Board members Chuck Shaw and Marcia Andrews, District leaders, co-workers, students and her husband gathered in the media center of Palm Beach Central High School Tuesday morning to pull off the surprise.
Dr. Aguirre is an ESOL Intensive Reading and English Teacher at Palm Beach Central High School, where she has been for the past nine years.
Aguirre works with students who speak various languages in her class, and uses her skills to take difficult concepts for students from non-native English proficiency background and makes the concepts comprehensible. Originally from the Philippines, Aguirre can relate to her students as English is her second language, and she too is an immigrant.
Her classroom focuses on a model of group work which helps students of different background and languages work together for a deeper understanding of the material. In such, students have developed a love of reading as they acquire a mastery of the English Language as she uses her positive attitude and respect for the students to impact the classroom environment.
“Everyday I reflect on what my students accomplished that day and who are the students who need more help,” Aguirre said. “Teaching is more than passion, it’s about the commitment to what you do everyday.”
Aguirre, who is a Lantana resident, launched a school-based Parents’ Literacy Day where parents and students participate in activities to promote literacy at home, because she feels having a good rapport with her students and their parents further promote education and meets the needs of the students.
Principal Darren Edgecomb called Aguirre, “one of the irreplaceables.”
Aguirre is the President of the Palm Beach TESOL (Teachers of ESOL), and has been named the 2016 Florida Reading Association Teacher of the Year, has been nominated for the Dwyer Awards Excellence in Education Special Programs in 2015, was a Dwyer Awards Finalist in 2014-2015, was nominated for the Outstanding American Teachers Awards in 2006, was selected as Most Outstanding Rookie of the Year at Glades Central High School in 2004-2005 and was named Outstanding Teacher Awardee at Xavier International School in the Philippines from 1992-2000. She has 25 years of teaching experience, including 13 in Florida.
One of Aguirre’s students was quoted in her application as saying: “Each of Dr. Aguirre lesson is a lesson full of love, and real life relevance. I can honestly say that she changed my life, and I am not saying this just because I’m writing this. It is because I see her as the woman I want to be in the future. Everyone in her class can see the effort she puts in every little thing she does for her students and how she teaches all of us. We learn from her and she learns from us. The respect I have for her is huge. Not so many people have the patience she has to teach, especially those who do not speak a single word of English and those who feel lost in a new country. She always had some snacks for her students. She always said that it is hard to learn when you are hungry. I had the pleasure to be in her class for two years, and in those years, I learned how to speak another language. I learned how to be a better person and how to do my best in everything I do. I learned about the value of education and the need for excellence. She helped her students discover their potentials. I loved to be in her classroom.”
“I go to work everyday loving what I do,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre will represent the District as the 2018 Florida Department of Education Macy’s Teacher of the Year. She will be honored at Board Meeting and at a reception as well as receiving a cash prize courtesy of the following sponsors: JG Wentworth, H&R Block, Optucorp, Calvo Realty Group, Braman MotorCars WPB and Horace Mann.