Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher is an 8th-grade English teacher at Dodson Middle School in Rancho Palos Verdes. She is the recipient of the 2014 Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year award and the 2015 recipient of the California Teacher of the Year award. Marquez-Prueher is a National Board Certified teacher who has been teaching for more than a decade.
She said she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher, inspired by two teachers in particular. As a young immigrant from the Philippines who was struggling to learn English, she said she was about to be inappropriately placed in a special education class after performing poorly on a test because of her limited English. But her 6th-grade teacher at Ynez Middle School in San Gabriel convinced school authorities that Marquez-Prueher failed the test because she was learning English, not because of a disability.
“She advocated for me so I could stay in the regular classroom,” Marquez-Prueher said.
She said her 7th-grade teacher encouraged her to compete in a math competition and she won first place.
“I’ve had influential teachers who showed me the empathy and the patience of working with an English learner like myself,” Marquez-Prueher said.
She said that she’s used the lessons gained from those early years to guide her own teaching at Dodson, which is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
What has been the greatest challenge for you in switching to Common Core English Language Arts?
The lack of reliable technology has been a great challenge in switching to Common Core ELA. I want to give my students access to the world outside our classroom walls. I want to teach my students how the Internet can increase their knowledge about different issues happening around them, so they can gain different perspectives and further research articles that they can use to support their claims and acknowledge other people’s points of views.
What forms of support do you need to successfully teach the new standards?
The kind of support I need from the district is to leverage teacher leaders to serve as knowledgeable and effective presenters of quality professional development throughout the school year, as coaches in the classroom who can give helpful immediate feedback to improve instruction, and as facilitators of lesson study to analyze student work and create common-core aligned lessons and units.
The kind of support I need from the state is to provide timely results of the Smarter Balanced assessments that my students are taking this year. To me, that data will be informative for how my students are progressing. I will have a better idea of what standards my students demonstrated proficiency in, and which ones I need to scaffold using lower-grade-level standards.
The kind of support I need from my school is to hold the parents accountable for signing up their children for intervention courses being offered after school, Saturdays, and during the summer. With the achievement gap, parents whose children are demonstrating below-grade-level knowledge and skills need to work closely and more collaboratively with the school to ensure that everyone is doing what it takes to help their children catch up.
What do you like about the Common Core?
Common Core has less standards, but they are rigorous. Since they are rigorous it puts the focus back on developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which requires time – time that we once lost because we had so many standards to address.
What do you dislike about the Common Core?
As of right now, what I dislike about Common Core are the myths surrounding it and the lack of the public’s knowledge about it and support of it.
Do you think that the Common Core standards are an improvement from California’s previous English Language Arts standards?
Common Core is a vast improvement from California’s previous ELA standards because they are more focused. The standards build on one another, and literacy is a responsibility shared by all.