Corrales 'totally dedicated to children'
By Andrea Rivera
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/mailstory-clickthru/269282.php
Third-grade teacher Edith Corrales will never forget the moment she learned to read in English.
She was an attentive third-grader who could read in Spanish but hadn't mastered English when a teacher asked her to read from a book. To her surprise, the words fell from her mouth.
"I automatically knew how to read," she said. "From that day on, reading became something I enjoyed."
Today, Corrales teaches English-language learners in a Sheltered English Immersion, or SEI, class at Liberty Elementary School in the Sunnyside Unified School District. She also teaches third-graders who are reading at a higher grade level.
Corrales is one of four local teachers selected for the 2008 Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona Exemplary Teacher Initiative from hundreds of educators in schools with large populations of low-income students. The teachers receive $10,000 in savings bonds and will mentor University of Arizona student teachers.
Corrales and her six student teachers will be sponsored by the Diamond Foundation and the Zuckerman Community Outreach Foundation.
"She's one of the finest teachers I've been associated with in my 34 years as an educator," Liberty Principal Bernie Cohn said. "I think the biggest thing is this is a teacher who is totally dedicated to children."
For Corrales, teaching is a family affair. Her two sisters, Cynthia Diaz and Annette Lopez, also teach at Liberty.
But their connection is even deeper than that. Corrales and her siblings were involved in bilingual education programs while attending elementary school in the Sunnyside school district. She attended Liberty and Elvira elementary schools, what is now Sierra Middle School and is a 1991 graduate of Desert View High School.
All of that means Corrales can really see herself in her students and their families, which makes her ability to connect to them colossal.
"If it worked for me, I know it's going to work for other children and I wanted to be part of that and really show them we can do it," she said. "We can be just as successful as anybody else."
As a student, she wanted to please her teachers and was eager to learn anything and everything, she said.
"She was totally together in every way," said Rich Mayorga, who taught Corrales in middle school and now teaches at Sunnyside High School.
"She was always compassionate, hardworking and always cared for others," he said.
Teaching was something Corrales always wanted to do and she knew she had to teach in the Sunnyside school district. She's been there 12 years.
"Sunnyside has done a lot for me," she said. "They made me who I am today. I wanted to give back to the district. I wanted to make my teachers proud. I'm a product of what they did."
● Contact reporter Andrea Rivera at 806-7737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.