Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Annual Teacher of the Year Award 2014

Indiana Obando

Indiana Obando
2014 Indiana Obando Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, Prince William County, Virginia

Indiana Obando came to the U.S. from Nicaragua at the age of 17. Her own experience in learning a new language inspired her to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Spanish literature with a concentration in bilingual and multicultural education from George Mason University. She has taught in Northern Virginia schools since 1994 to the present.

A Spanish immersion teacher at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, Indiana teaches a significant number of students from immigrant families. She serves as an advocate, working to make them feel comfortable at school and sharing strategies with them to help reinforce what is learned at school with their children at home – for example, adapting math strategies for parents in their native language and holding workshops to provide tools and support.

While a student in an ESOL classroom, Indiana developed an appreciation of a range of cultures, which she passes on to her students. She seeks out global pen pals and her students write and hold video conferences with their new friends.

Indiana capitalizes on the resources available in the D.C. metropolitan area to bring to her class, such as Urban Nestwatch, a Smithsonian scientist teaching group, or a nutritionist who uses games, puppets, videos, and cooking activities to teach students and parents about healthy diets and exercise.

Indiana also invites high school students studying Spanish to visit Bailey’s Spanish immersion classes; the older students can practice their Spanish language skills and the elementary students see that continuing to learn Spanish is an important skill as they continue their education.

Teaching philosophy

  • Parents are the first and foremost important educators in a child’s life.
  • Give parents the opportunities to get involved and become lifelong supporters of their children’s education.
  • Collaborate with other teachers for an interdisciplinary approach that creates a more powerful learning environment.


  • Recipient of Japan Fulbright Memorial Teacher’s Fund Program (2007)
  • Human Relations Recognition Award (2012-2013)
  • Certification of Notification for Bailey’s Teacher of the Year Nominee (2012-2013)
  • Created a digital book with her class The Long Journey of a Monarch or El largo viaje de una Monarca, submitted to the Kids are Authors competition, sponsored by Scholastic.