Ligia Ray, a kindergarten teacher at Alice Birney Elementary School, who teaches Structured English Immersion (SEI), has been named Humboldt County Teacher of the Year. The Humboldt County Board of Education will officially honor Ray during its September meeting at the Humboldt County Office of Education in Eureka.
Ray was one of nine Excellence in Teaching awardees honored earlier this month. “Honoring the exemplary educators in our county is one of the highlights of the year. Each one represents incredible commitment and dedication to achievement for all the students they serve,” stated Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Chris Hartley. “I’m especially excited Ligia Ray will be our Humboldt County Teacher of the Year. Her creativity, compassion and incredible commitment to serving her students at Alice Birney is truly inspirational.”
Ray has taught Kindergarten throughout her thirty-five-year career and has collaborated with Humboldt State University’s Educational Department to mentor more than thirty ‘apprentice teachers’ during that time, many of whom are now employed locally as educators.
Ligia Ray is an educational innovator when it comes to meeting the needs of every student. She initiated the first structured English Immersion class for local Kindergarten students when she saw the increasing number of English Language Learners coming into the average classroom. This involved taking an already successful program and adding elements of increased literacy instruction and numeric exploration. She engaged family and community members to read, play games and do math to support the formal instruction she was providing in the classroom.
Eight years ago, Ligia and her Principal went a step further to ensure a smooth transition into school for English Language Learners and collaborated on a Summer Jump-Start program for incoming Kindergarten students. The English Learner Kindergarten Academy (E.L.K.) is an annual, free, weeklong introduction to school for students who speak little or no English and has proven to be a model for school success.
Former Principal of Alice Birney Elementary School, Georgeanne Fulstone Pucillo commended Ray on her preparation, patience and positivity in all she does. “Ligia is the teacher every parent or family member would want their child to have. She is committed to being present to the families of her students, partnering with them as they support their children.”
Current Alice Birney Principal Beth Holcomb agrees. “Ligia is a giver,” she said. “She gives her time, expertise and kindness. She has contributed greatly to the teaching profession as a positive role model for students, staff and families.”
In her thoughts about teaching, Ray said, “It’s all about relationships…so my goal is to have a one-on-one relationship with each and every child…and engage them, and make it fun. We want these children to love learning and love being here, this is home.”
As Humboldt County Teacher of the Year, Ray will represent the county as its nominee for 2018-19 California Teacher of the Year. The California Department of Education is expected to announce its selections for State Teacher of the Year in November.