Claudia Peña holds high expectations for every student at North Alamo Elementary in Alamo, Texas, a school that is 99 percent Hispanic and composed primarily of English Language Learners, many of whom are recent immigrants. As second-grade teacher and grade-level chair, Peña teaches critical thinking skills to every level of learner from gifted to special needs. She provides parents with materials to reinforce learning at home and extends this commitment to the school's Monday night reading sessions where parents can read with their children. Known for her creative, activities-based approach to curriculum, Peña had her second graders make their own sushi with seaweed, rice and avocado while studying Japan and China. Her students are extremely well-prepared to experience success in third grade, as evidenced by their 2007-08 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) scores, with 97 percent passing in math and 98 percent in reading. Such high scores have contributed to North Alamo's ongoing success as a Reading First campus with an exemplary rating, a particularly impressive accomplishment for a school in which over 80 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. As second-grade-level chair, Peña mentors new teachers and runs weekly intensive professional development meetings. She also writes curriculum at the district level, integrating the latest educational research so that both teachers and students can achieve their highest potential.
1997 University of Texas - Pan American, B.A.