Danbury teacher earns national award

Danbury teacher’s impact on education earns national award
Posted on 03/19/2019

A tireless dedication toward her students and a commitment to the Hispanic community that both continue to impact education and achievement have earned Rogers Park Middle School teacher Luanelly Iglesias a national award to be presented at the National Education Association’s convention this summer.

Iglesias is the recipient of the George I. Sanchez Memorial award, given annually to an educator who promotes education for Hispanic children. An educator for 16 years, Iglesias, a dually certified bilingual and math teacher, has taught at Rogers Park for the past four years.

“Luanelly has been an integral part of our ELL program at RPMS for many years. Her compassion for our students is matched only by her dedication to providing the best possible academic environment for our English Learners. This award could not go to a more deserving teacher. We are so proud of her and her accomplishments,” said Rogers Park principal Dr. Kristy Zaleta.

Iglesias believes strongly in the “power of transformation through education.” She works closely with students to improve their language skills and ultimately do better in school. She said she remembers when she was one of those students who initially struggled with English.

“We give by grace what by grace we receive,” Iglesias said recently, adding that through education students learn about love, care, respect and team work. Nothing, she said, is more rewarding than seeing students’ growth over the years and knowing that she had a part in helping them succeed.

“That is the award,” she said. “Knowing how I impacted my students and they become successful, they become leaders. That’s the best award I could receive.”

Despite moving from Puerto Rico to Connecticut without being fluent in English when she was 18, Luanelly Iglesias quickly immersed herself not just in learning the language, but learning language with a purpose: to help others.

Her first job in 1996 was as a social worker assistant at the Department of Children and Families before earning a degree from Springfield College and becoming a full-fledged social worker. It was during her tenure her that she earned a Governor’s Service award for her outstanding service to the children and families of Connecticut. Since then, Iglesias has dedicated her life toward helping others by empowering the Latino community. Part of her successes include starting a GEAR Up (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program) for high-poverty Hispanic students in Waterbury. She also co-founded Madre Latina, a nonprofit foundation based in Waterbury that helps Hispanic mothers and their children connect with community services.

“I love working with the Hispanics as well as other ethnically and racially diverse populations, support my students and their families, seek for services and opportunities to help them address their needs,” Iglesias said.

Other awards include Waterbury’s Teacher of the Year, Educator of the Year by the Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury, Hispanic Educator and Communications Relationships and Eunice Waller Ethnic Minority Initiative awards by CEA and the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Rivera Memorial Foundation in Waterbury.