Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Annual Teacher of the Year Award 2015

Veronica Perez

Veronica Perez
2015 Veronica Perez, Arlington Traditional Elementary School, Arlington, Virginia

Veronica Perez, a native of Puerto Rico, was inspired to get an education by her mother and grandmother, both of whom had to leave school early to care for their families. “I grew up in the middle of lush fields of sugar cane in the company of very hard-working people. Looking at the hard life of these two wonderful women motivated me to do better for myself.” She saw education as a “privilege.”

She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from InterAmerican University of San German in Puerto Rico, a master’s degree in foreign language at George Mason University and did graduate work in studio art at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Her principal, Holly Hawthorne, calls Veronica “a one-in-a-million teacher.” “Her enthusiasm for art and teaching is contagious. When entering our school, one feels like they have entered an art museum. Children’s artwork welcomes you in the showcase, in the main lobby, and throughout the hallways.”

In addition,Veronica brings community artists and performers into her school for assemblies, plans special projects and field trips for her classes, and is known for providing elaborate decorations for student plays.

She also ensures that the Latino community and other cultures are represented in school- wide events.

Veronica, who is a practicing artist, taught fourth graders at her school how to use photography to document their lives during an eight-week period. She then traveled to a remote village in Uganda to teach fifth grade students how to use digital cameras to express themselves. The photo exhibit has been on display in both countries.

Teaching philosophy

  • Accountability is vital for educators, parents, administrators and students – who ultimately should take responsibility for their own learning
  • I teach from a global perspective because education goes beyond the walls of a classroom into the community and the world
  • I train and support veteran and new teachers to create a classroom culture of acceptance

Accomplishments

  • Cultural Competence facilitator, Arlington Public Schools
  • Latino Professional Women
  • This is My City, Uganda Africa project, Arlington Academy of Hope and Arlington Arts Center
  • Created art appreciation-focused website for Pre-K-5 grades
  • Art Latin American Collective Project
  • The Latino Art League

Photo Captions:
Photo 1
(l-r) Eugenio Fischer, Leveo Sanchez III (Board Member), Veronica Perez, Cel Beltran (Board Member)

Photo 2
2015 Co-Winners Veronica Perez and Eugenio Fischer