Dallas ISD Teacher of the Year Finalist Spotlight: Maria Sarmiento from Nancy Cochran Elementary School

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Maria “Elysa” Enriquez Sarmiento, born in Manila, Philippines, to a family of educators, completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology in her home country before moving to the U.S.  She worked as a paraeducator with 3rd to 5th graders in Hayward, California, for almost two years before relocating to Dallas as an autism behavior technician at a non-profit health services provider. Joining Dallas ISD in 2016 as a student teacher at Martinez Learning Center in West Dallas, she earned an alternative teaching certificate and served as her school’s special education lead teacher and chairperson for three academic years. After acquiring her master’s degree in special education through Lamar University, she is now charged with a Functional Living Skills unit at Nancy Cochran Elementary School. Cassell Gray, assistant principal at Cochran Elementary, says Ms. Sarmiento is “dedicated to the success of all students,” advocating for them all and not allowing their disabilities to hinder their learning.  “Ms. Sarmiento is the epitome of what every teacher should be.”

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