El Paso ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year will hone social and emotional learning skills in New Zealand
(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT — March 2, 2023) — Amy Martinez Perez, the current El Paso ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year, will mark another milepost in her momentous year this month when she joins a cohort from Texas A&M University that will attend a 10-day study abroad program in New Zealand to learn about special education and inclusion programs at the Victoria University of Wellington.
Martinez Perez, who is a dual language teacher at Don Haskins PK-8 School and was named the district’s Elementary Teacher of the Year in May 2022, will head to the university March 9 to meet with faculty members and students to discuss and research the impact of social and emotional learning on the region surrounding the New Zealand capital.
The current Texas A&M graduate student has been with El Paso ISD since 2018. She expects to complete her master’s degree in learning design and technology this year. The trip to New Zealand, which will conclude March 20, is part of her studies and will involve her conducting classroom visits at the Rosehill School to show life skills to students with specific learning needs.
In addition, the group will assess a basketball program that is inclusive to children with ADHD or autism spectrum disorder and their siblings that help with the development of their social skills. Students will also learn how Kapa Haka, the traditional Maori dance ritual, plays a role in students’ social and emotional learning.
Whole child development and equitable education offerings are two of the main tenets of El Paso ISD’s recently adopted Hopes and Dreams Realized 2022-2025 strategic blueprint. Under the guiding document, campuses are charged with creating a classroom culture where students have access to personalized learning and are supported by caring adults. In addition, teachers and school leaders are asked to foster equitable access to opportunities by eliminating barriers for all students and providing high-quality, relevant, and differentiated resources matched to each school’s needs and strengths.
Martinez Perez said this study abroad experience will help her continue to hone the skill set she needs to fulfill the district’s vision of the future.
“I am excited about the opportunity to travel to a different country to gain further insights into a realm that will be of great benefit to our Haskins community,” Martinez Perez said. “Teachers are capable of learning and growing right alongside their students. When we do that, we shine together.”