Special needs teacher given service award
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 7, 2005
Betty Reid


Special kids run into the arms of Mary Gallegos at Isaac Middle School.

A number of Spanish-speaking-only, physically or mentally disabled students enroll at the middle school eager to begin English lessons every year.

When these students end up in Gallegos' classroom, they are pampered and welcomed by the humorous and warm soul of the instructor.

Some students are identified as English language learners, or ELLs, many of whom move into regular classrooms once they get the mechanics of the language.

"I sing to my kids, I dance and I cook to make sure learning happens," Gallegos said.

The Chandler resident is one of eight Valley Latino educators recognized for their work in the classroom. She received the Chicanos Por La Causa's Esperanza award Oct. 25.

Agency officials described Gallegos, 51, as an expert in special education, a field few Latinos pursue.

Dominique Lopez is a former ELL student of Gallegos. She remembered learning about sentence structure and punctuation. Lopez, 12, is in seventh grade at Isaac Middle School.

"I used the lessons in my language arts class; it helped me get a better grade," Lopez said.

This article also appeared in ĦExtra!