Bilingual science teacher Maria Carrillo is virtually an ambassador for the Latino community in the area of Portland where she teaches. Having grown up in Mexico, where she was educated and first began teaching, Ms. Carrillo knows firsthand what it's like to try to overcome cultural and language obstacles. To help Latino families learn about the American school system, she initiated quarterly Latino Parent Nights, covering topics ranging from how to read report cards to how grades and graduation credits work. Mrs. Carrillo has also worked with the Mexican Consulate as well as state and district leaders to create additional educational opportunities not only for her Latino students but for the adult members of their families as well. A highly respected role model, Ms. Carrillo meets the instructional needs of students across a wide range of ability, from those with only a second-grade education to those who have taken college preparatory courses in their native country. She has also provided cultural training for her fellow teachers on how to adapt teaching methods, curriculum and parental communication to reach Latino students in their classes. For five years, she ran a program called SMILE (Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences), designed to provide extra academic help and encouragement for underrepresented students so they can go on to college. The program helped reduce the school's dropout rate. That's definitely something to smile about.