ATS Teacher Named Hispanic Teacher of the Year Arlington Traditional School art teacher Veronica Perez was one of two area teachers honored Tuesday night with the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award. The award is given by the Victoria D. de Sanchez Endowment at Marymount University in order to recognize and encourage teachers who have demonstrated exemplary results working with area Hispanic students. The endowment was established by the Hispanic Youth Foundation of Northern Virginia, which was created by a group of Hispanic business owners. Perez was inspired to get an education by her mother and grandmother, both of whom had to leave school early. She went on to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree from InterAmerican University of San German in Puerto Rico, a master’s degree in foreign language at George Mason University and did graduate work in studio art at Virginia Commonwealth University. ATS Principal Holly Hawthorne called Perez “a one-in-a-million teacher.” “Her enthusiasm for art and teaching is contagious,” Hawthorne said. “When entering our school, one feels like they have entered an art museum. Children’s artwork welcomes you in the showcase, in the main lobby, and throughout the hallways.” In addition, Perez brings community artists and performers into her school for assemblies, plans special projects and field trips for her classes, and is known for providing elaborate decorations for student plays. She also ensures that the Latino community and other cultures are represented in school- wide events and is a district-wide cultural competence facilitator. In 2011, Perez, who is a practicing artist, taught fourth graders at her school how to use photography to document their lives during an eight-week period. She then traveled to a remote village in Uganda to teach fifth grade students how to use digital cameras to express themselves. The photo exhibit has been on display in both countries. Perez received a check for $2,000 and commemorative plaque during Marymount University’s School of Education and Human Services Award Dinner on campus. This year’s awards were presented by Leveo Sanchez III, grandson of Victoria D. de Sanchez, who was a leader in establishing schools, training teachers, and developing textbooks and curricula across Latin America. She also was active in the Reading is Fundamental and Head Start programs in the United States.