Home Advocate Danbury’s teacher of the year is an ‘advocate’ for her immigrant students

Danbury’s teacher of the year is an ‘advocate’ for her immigrant students


DANBURY – Most Emily Lopes students work with hail from Portuguese or Spanish speaking countries and have been in the United States for less than a year.

“It’s not easy – a new school, a new language, a new culture – it’s very difficult for them, and I try to do my best to help them feel valued and important,” a- she declared.

Lopes, a sixth-grade bilingual educator known for her enthusiasm and dedication, has been named the 2021-22 Danbury Public Schools Teacher of the Year.

The Rogers Park Middle School teacher, who has more than two decades of experience, said she was honored by the recognition.

“I’ve been teaching for 22 years and I do it because I love being in the classroom, I love teaching and I love kids,” she said.

Lopes was one of 20 Danbury Public Schools educators nominated for Teacher of the Year.

Superintendent Kevin Walston said picking just one of the district’s “incredible teachers” was a difficult task, but Lopes truly deserves it.

“His dedication to the socio-emotional and academic well-being of his students and their families is inspiring,” he said. “We are extremely proud of Ms. Lopes.”

School officials say Lopes’ dedication to ensuring student and family needs are met and her ability to connect and build lasting relationships have earned her Teacher of the Year. .

“I was very impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm that Ms. Lopes brings to her work,” Rogers Park Manager Kristy Zaleta said.

Not only does Lopes create a warm and welcoming environment for newly arrived students and their families, according to Zaleta, but her supportive nature “lays the foundation for a positive school experience.”

“His classroom is one of the classrooms we send new teachers to to observe and learn, as well as seasoned teachers to get new ideas about how to use time, space, data and resources,” Zaleta said.

Lopes said her ESL and bilingual teaching career began in Bridgeport.

“I started teaching at Central High School in a bilingual Portuguese class,” she said. “I lived in Danbury, got a job here and was between schools before going full time here at Rogers Park.”

Having spent most of her career at Rogers Park, Lopes — who is certified in both K-6 education and teaching English to speakers of other languages ​​— said the college community is “like a family”.

“I work with great teachers and I always brag about how great they are,” she said. “The directors and managers are amazing and the hardest working people I know.”

A bilingual teacher, Lopes works with students from other countries.

“Coming to a new school in a new country is really difficult for them,” she said. “They have a lot of adjustments to make, and the most important thing I do is try to build a positive relationship with them by talking to them and interacting with them and making them feel safe so that they can learn.”

In addition to helping her students adapt and grow in their new environment, Lopes is someone they can turn to for support.

“These new children really need us – they need a lawyer and someone they can go to,” said Lopes, whose ability to speak Portuguese and Spanish allows him to fulfill this important role. .

Relationship building is central to Lopes’ teaching approach.

“You need to build relationships with students to open their minds and hearts so they can grow,” she said. “We want them to grow, we want them to be challenged, and we have to stretch their minds to move forward.”

Lopes said she didn’t consider the job she did at Rogers Park to be work. It’s something she appreciates.

“I love coming every day. I really enjoy my job and I always feel good in class,” she said. “These kids inspire me every day, and it’s really rewarding work.”

As the 2021-2022 Danbury Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Lopes will not only be honored by the school board at its June 8 meeting, but will continue to represent Danbury in the Teacher of the Year program. from Connecticut.