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Chula Vista educator Emma Sanchez receives lifetime achievement award from Imagine Learning

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Imagine Learning presents lifetime achievement award to Emma Sanchez of Chula Vista
Emma Sanchez of Chula Vista School District, CA receives Imagine Learning sponsored Lifetime Achievement award

Emma Sanchez, long-time educator and champion of English language learners (ELL) in the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD), was recently presented with a lifetime achievement award by Utah-based EdTech company, Imagine Learning. The Emma Sanchez Lifetime Achievement Award, meant to honor Sanchez’ dedication to helping all students, was announced at a district meeting attended by principals, district leaders, the district supervisor, and friends and family of Sanchez. Sanchez, who retired as Executive Director for Language Development and Instruction for CVESD on May 31, 2108, had worked at the district for the past 30 years. 

Sanchez was presented the award on June 9. Previous to her most current role, she also worked as a bilingual classroom teacher, master teacher, Reading and Language Arts Specialist, and principal in the district. 

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“Emma touched the lives of the students she worked with,” explained Yadira Cervantes, Area Partnership Manager for Imagine Learning in San Diego. “This award is a way to acknowledge the legacy she created helping students in Chula Vista and to continue her legacy by awarding it in the future to others who share her passion and drive.”

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award from Imagine Learning,” expressed Sanchez. “Our work becomes so much easier when you have the right tool to accelerate teaching and learning. CVESD and Imagine Learning have had a long-lasting partnership, and together we have served and supported student achievement. This award is a compelling statement and recognition of the strong, courageous leadership and advocacy required to ensure that our students have access to the tools that will prepare them to be college and career ready, and most importantly, to be contributing and caring global citizens.”

An advocate for ELLs, Sanchez is known for her passion and dedication to helping all students reach their individual academic potential. Sanchez herself was an English language learner, growing up at a time when students were encouraged to only speak English. “Many children from my generation lost their first language because they wanted to blend in,” Sanchez explained. “When I went into education, I knew that I wanted to honor that home language. So, I became a dual-language teacher.” 

“Emma showed her students that they could be successful; that someone believed in them,” shared Justin Hewett, Regional Partnership Director for Imagine Learning in California. “She sought out the vulnerable students, the ones who were at risk, and made a difference in their lives.”

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“I saw myself in these students and I wanted them to know they could reach their dreams, just like I did,” said Sanchez. “It drove my passion.” Sanchez explained that her goal was to help ELLs obtain literacy in both languages and see themselves as capable of learning, going to college, and achieving their potential. 

CVESD, located five minutes from the Mexican border in San Diego County, is the largest K–6 school district in the state of California. The district is made up of forty-six schools that serve over 30,000 students and has a 34% ELL population. CVESD is the recent recipient of the first ever “California Exemplary District” honor, chosen for its academic growth, performance, and practices that increase student achievement and community engagement. 

“Over the last few years, neighboring districts have come to Chula Vista for professional training because their student gains were so amazing,” shared Cervantes. “They always specifically asked to meet Emma. She is an icon in Chula Vista.”

“We’d love this award to be presented in the future to other educators who share the passion and the heart that Emma has,” explained Hewett. “Maybe they would be from all over California. Or maybe, someday, they could be from across the country.”

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