June 9, 2000

County Recognizes Sweetwater Educators for Biliteracy Leadership

Mentor Teacher Luz Maria Lopez and Superintendent Ed Brand won countywide recognition for promoting biliteracy efforts in the Sweetwater District. A panel of top educators from throughout the county honored Ms. Lopez, Dr. Brand and other awardees at a recent ceremony sponsored by the San Diego County Office of Education.

In representing a district that is 83% culturally diverse, both recipients see biliteracy as key to the academic success of Sweetwater's 34,000 students.

"Dr. Brand and Ms. Lopez are respected in the county for their efforts to boost achievement by nurturing students' strengths," said Alma Pirazzini, Director of Academic Support Programs.

Luz Maria Lopez has been a Sweetwater teacher and bil-iteracy advocate for the last 20 years. Currently a district mentor providing one-on-one support for new teachers, Ms. Lopez has played a key role in developing curriculum for English Language Learners and organizing school and community biliteracy outreach to families.

Under Dr. Brand's guidance, Sweetwater was among the first San Diego County districts to go on record against Proposition 227 with a unanimous board resolution.

Brand's biliteracy vision includes college for all students—especially those from under-represented groups. He helped develop a unique pilot program with San Diego State University to guarantee SDSU admission for Sweetwater's Class of 2006. Compact for Success will give students extra academic support and offer a tuition aid program to make college more accessible.

Under Brand's leadership, more than 1,200 Sweetwater teachers completed specialized training to better support English Language Learners—an effort that won a National School Boards Association Magna Award.

Dr. Brand also helped bring to fruition an International Academy summer program that connects Sweetwater youth and students from Mexico. Program students study together on both sides of the border—and make significant gains in language fluency.

The district' board president Greg Sandoval congratulated both Sweetwater's honorees saying, "Biliteracy gives our students an edge, and we're proud of what Ms. Lopez and Dr. Brand have accomplished."

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