In Susan Moreno’s dual-language classroom at J.L. Long Middle School in Dallas, seventh- and eighth-graders visit Hispanic countries through music, poetry and cuisine without ever leaving Texas. Students build model houses, describing in Spanish each room, what people do in each space, and which room is their favorite. Working in teams, students write short stories, perform original skits and produce videos. Moreno’s lessons touch on global issues like immigration from Central America—a relevant topic for many students whose families came to the U.S. along the same path. The founder and leader of Long’s secondary dual language (DL) program, Moreno is considered a master teacher who finds innovative ways to reach her students. She works with counselors and administrators to make sure her students have equitable access to pre-AP and AP classes, are succeeding, and take part in campus life. To build the program’s pipeline, Moreno actively recruits students from the district’s elementary schools, encouraging them to maintain their Spanish language as they move through middle and high school.
In addition to working directly with students, Moreno supports other secondary DL teachers, helping them implement the program correctly and leading professional development. She mentors new teachers, writes DL curriculum for the district, created and chairs Long’s dual language committee, and is a strong advocate for the Teacher Excellence Initiative. Moreno works tirelessly to integrate both district and state content expectations into engaging, relevant DL lessons. Her “whatever it takes” mentality inspires colleagues and pushes students, who outperform their general education peers on state assessments.
Students know Moreno cares about every one of them and is committed to their success in middle school and beyond. When they are having a hard day, she asks how she can help. Moreno meets with parents to keep them informed about their children’s progress and shares DL news on a dedicated Facebook page for the program. At the end of eighth grade, Moreno organizes a special moving-up ceremony with students, parents, administrators and district personnel, complete with a moving slide show. Students leave Long, but they never leave Moreno: She often attends meetings at the high school for her former DL students to make sure they are on track.
Moreno earned a bachelor’s degree in 2013 and a master's in arts and education in 2014 from the University of Arkansas.
KERA-FM | NPR | Nov 14 , 2019 | Dallas, TX
Advocate Magazine | Nov 14 , 2019 | Dallas, TX
The Dallas Morning News | Nov 14 , 2019 | Dallas, TX
KDFW-TV | FOX | Nov 14 , 2019 | Dallas, TX