October 10, 2003

Chula Vista Educator Wins $2,000 National Award for Innovative Teaching

Jorge Cortez, a teacher at Juarez-Lincoln Accelerated School in Chula Vista, has been recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative educators in the 2003 Education’s Unsung Heroes Awards program, presented by ING. One of 100 winners, Cortez now will vie with other winners for one of the top three prizes - an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000.

Education’s Unsung Heroes Awards recognize kindergarten through 12th grade educators nationwide for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects, and ability to make a positive influence on the children they teach. Now in its eighth year, the program has awarded nearly $2 million to more than 700 educators across the United States.

Cortez’s “Learning is Fun, Entirely (LIFE)” program provides additional literacy instruction for students in need of academic intervention. Teachers work with these students for at least an hour after school and help the students work on projects based on identified skill and language needs. Students are challenged to create projects including a newspaper of school and community events, writing and directing a theater production, and Socratic discussions of selected readings. Parent workshops teach strategies for working at home with students and build a family learning focus. Participating parents receive gift certificates to educational stores so they can continue literacy games and projects at home. Cortez is a resident of Chula Vista.

“There are so many teachers today who consistently go above and beyond to meet the needs of their students. They are creative, focused and innovative in their teaching strategies and in how they engage students. One of the great joys we experience in our work with educators is getting to see these remarkable programs first-hand,” said ING Senior Vice President Bill Jasien. “We believe strongly in supporting our nation’s educators, both in their professional and personal lives.”

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