Mesa, Ariz. educator Patricia Urdialez has received the 2011 Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year award. Urdialez leads the Longfellow Elementary School’s family literacy program, which will receive $10,000 as part of the award. Together with the parents, Urdialez works to develop a learning strategy to help their child. She listens to the children and makes them feel special — adding her own special touch of enthusiasm to every answer. Her adult students look forward to class because they know every topic will enrich their lives and the lives of their families. As a result, teachers have recognized that children whose parents participate in Urdialez’s class have increased levels of achievement. Families now have library cards and unprecedented access to the school’s media center. They also are starring in their own short film at Family Movie Night — where they recommend their favorite books to others. The success of the Longfellow Elementary families also has been recognized at the district level. Other principals are interested in having the program at their school, and Title I began funding the program when the initial funding ended.
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