Top teacher in California is a Tagalog-speaking native of Cavite

RANCHO PALOS VERDE, Calif. – Cavite-born Levlyn Marquez Pruehr of Dodson Middle School blends in height-wise with her youth, but she is now the first known Filipino to win the prestigious title of State Teacher of the Year.

“I’m absolutely thrilled and honored,” said the 2015 Teacher of the Year. “It’s really a wonderful opportunity to talk to parents, talk to fellow teachers, talk to students all over California about what it’s like to be an immigrant, someone who was suspected of having a learning disability, having to overcome those obstacles.

Most of the kids she deals with are slow English learners and some of them have learning disabilities – something Marquez-Pruehr is familiar with.

“I was suspected of having a learning disability, and it wasn’t until my 6th grade teacher who advocates for me saying, ‘look at her work samples, look at what she could do,’” said Marquez-Pruehr.

Soon she discovered her future career while helping a fellow kababayan.

“When I was in 7th grade, meron akong kapitbahay, first grade lang sya, kaka immigrate lang nya from the Philippines,” said Marquez-Pruehr. “Hindi sya masyadong marunong mag basa so yung mom nya hinahire nya ako to be the reading tutor, and I read with him every day for weeks and until I noticed he was reading with ease and confidence.”

We sat in her classroom as she was teaching her students writing skills.

She uses various methods: technology and face to face interactions with a mix of fun games.

“I use technology to make sure that I have that “in” to their world,” she said. “Middle school students are very social, so I have to give the opportunity for them to talk to each other.”

One of her students, Andres Ramirez, said, “My other group members can guide me, and I’m not afraid to ask her anything because I know she will help me.”

“One of the qualities is she really tries to foster parent-school partnerships,” said Agnes Pitlik, Vice Principal at Dodson Middle School. “Not just in the classroom but outside the classroom.”

The teaching and learning cycle never ends for Mrs. Marquez. When her students are dismissed, she also mentors fellow teachers, and when she goes home she’s also a teacher to her young daughter – all of this while she continues to learn new techniques perfecting her craft.

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  • Maria
    18 December 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    I hope all teachers will be like Ms.Levlyn na kahit nasa malayo na at mataas ang narating, ginagamit at hindi nakakalimutan ang ating sariling wika. Dapat naman na kapag Pilipino ka hindi lamang English ang alam mo, mas higit ang sarili nating salita dahil mga Pilipino tayo kahit saan makarating. Sinabi ni Jose Rizal ang ating pambansang bayani, “Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa malansang isda”. marami na kasi ang mga Pilipinong malansang isda dahil nalimutan na ang sariling wika.