The votes have been tallied and Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch's Person of the Year is dual language teacher Angelina Saenz.
Saenz, who was featured by Patch last Spring for her work in Aldama's classrooms, received a total of 18 votes.
Those who cast their ballot for Saenz commented on the positive community impact she was making through the dual language program.
"She is making a difference one child at a time," said Cecilia Pascuzzo. "I sent my son to Aldama to learn to read and write, add and subtract, and play. He comes home with so much more. Self worth, sense of culture, tolerance and pride! In other words she rocks!"
“My students are so bright,” Sáenz said. “Students from K-1 understand instructions (in both languages) but it is challenging for them to respond. We expect them to be proficient at grade level by third or fourth grade in both languages.”
The other benefit of being enrolled in a dual language program is the diversity, she said.
“We have students from all backgrounds and socioeconomic status,” she said. “We have students from Mount Washington, Eagle Rock and Highland Park.”
Sáenz said learning two languages will not only help students be more successful but also may even help brain development.
“The students are constantly making the distinction between both languages,” said Sáenz, adding that having that understanding will help them with other subjects. “Their metacognition is amazing.”
Saenz was among 11 community members to be nominated for Patch's first "Person of the Year" competition, all of whom had made valuable contributions to the community.
Patch will feature Saenz later in the week, and check in on the progress of Aldama's dual language program.