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Elementary West Teacher Named Woodland's Gurnee Teacher of the Year

Reading recovery teacher Vianey Soriaga will be recognized by the village of Gurnee in May as one of its three Teachers of the Year for 2019.

“I feel very fortunate and humble to work with the amazing students and teachers from Woodland. Helping students read and write in two languages is my greatest passion. Woodland has been my family for 20 years,” she said. Mrs. Soriaga started at Woodland as a classroom kindergarten teacher, followed by teaching English as a second language, bilingual first grade, Spanish dual first grade and now teaching reading recovery, which means she works with simultaneous bilingual students by helping them accelerate their literacy in both languages.

Over the years, she said her focus has been on supporting literacy and establishing a close relationship with families. “I address the needs of the whole child, which is essential for learning and helping them reach their full potential.”

Her nomination was among more than 200 this year from students, staff and parents at Woodland District 50. The village will recognize her and a teacher from Gurnee District 56 and Warren Township High School at the village board meeting.

One of the nominations for Mrs. Soriaga said, “If there were more hours in the day, I am convinced that Vianey would use them to support the students that she stewards. Vianey's nurturing, caring, and professional demeanor provides her students with a stress-free place to learn and develop; free from judgement and unnecessary pressure. Her students succeed because of her care for them and her ability to provide them a relaxing environment to explore their capabilities.”

The daughter of parents who were both teachers, Mrs. Soriaga’s passion for teaching began when she lived in Mexico. She attended Vocacional High School Centro Regional de Educacion Normal and received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood from Universidad Pedagogica Nacional in Iguala in Guerrero, Mexico. She also has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University and is reading recovery certified.

Mrs. Soriaga was surprised with the announcement at an Elementary West staff meeting on April 3. She was presented with a certificate, flowers and balloons from Principal Ryan Wollberg, Assistant Principals Kristi Blasius and Jennifer Pilcher, and Dr. Lori Casey, Associate Superintendent of Education.

Elementary West Principal Ryan Wollberg said, “I am proud to say that I get to work with such an outstanding educator as Vianey. She comes to work on a daily basis and does all that she can for our students and staff to ensure we are meeting the needs of all of our learners. She has a positive demeanor that is infectious and after working with the Vianey, you can’t help but feel that you can accomplish anything. I am so happy for her to have received this recognition, she truly has earned it.”

Woodland District 50 recognizes the winners from each school who were considered as finalists for Woodland’s Gurnee Teacher of the Year:
Sarah Baier, Music Teacher – Woodland Primary
Lisa Valentine, First Grade Teacher – Woodland Elementary East
Jennifer Baker, Fourth Grade Teacher – Woodland Intermediate
Bill Polston, Sixth Grade Math – Woodland Middle School