Voices V


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Student Awards and Scholarships

Each year NJTESOL/NJBE holds a dinner at the Spring Conference.  Awards and scholarships are presented to deserving English language learners. This year’s winners are:

Daniel Rodrigues and his Esl teacher Daniel Rodriques from Linden Public Schools, our 4th grade writing contest winner, won a $100 certificate to Barnes & Noble. He is pictured with his ESL teacher
Winner 8th Grade Pablo Huertas from Trenton Public Schools was our 8th Grade Writing Challenge winner. The prize for this award was a laptop computer. (See the letter below.)
Winner HS Brenda Ortiz from Jersey City Public Schools was our $1500 High School Scholarship winner. [See accompanying article below.]
Winner Higher Ed Urszula Bazydlo-Chaberek, who attends Raritan Valley Community College, was our $1500 Higher Education Scholarship winner.


Congratulations to all!

A Thank-You Letter from the Teacher of
Our Eighth Grade Writing Winner

Dear Ms. Pongracz,

             I attended the Award Dinner Event last night, where my student, Pablo Huertas, won First Prize in the Writing Contest for the eighth grade category. He was very short of words because he is shy. I wanted to tell you about his  extreme progress and why I believe he was so deserving of the laptop award. He is a special education student who was a non-reader last year. I have been working with him for two years and this year is when his brain seemed to have turned on the magic switch to not only learn, but retain everything he is learning. He's at a 4th grade reading level today.

             About his writing skills, he could hardly spell and his penmanship was very difficult to read. His writing, as you saw in his essay, improved incredibly. I am so proud of Pablo and
he was so happy with his award. I know that he will benefit from this experience.

            Thank you so much for making a lifetime experience for a student that came into class everyday with the desire to improve his education.

Hilda Diaz
Dunn Middle School
ESL Teacher


How does being bilingual help me be part of a global community?
The High School Scholarship Award
By Monica Schnee and Gail Verdi

We had the wonderful yet difficult job of reading the entries for the High School Scholarship Award. Wonderful, because it inspired us to learn how many students  value this time in their lives and have such worthy goals. Difficult, because they were all winners in their own right.

We were both touched by the hard work and the hopes and aspirations of the applicants. They all showed a commitment to learning English as “their” second language as well as to the new culture in order to become members of our global community.

In our minds, all of these students have what it takes to face challenges and succeed. All of them have the dedication, focus and determination that will make them the best at whatever it is that they decide to be. Therefore, we would like to share the names of the other three runners-up:

Aneta Sokolowska – Toms River High School North
Aneta is bilingual in Polish and English. Her goal is to become a doctor. Congratulations, Aneta!

Juliana Montoya – Ferris High School
Juliana is bilingual in Spanish and English. She is interested in becoming a nurse. Congratulations, Juliana!

Marcela Alzate – Dover High School
Marcela is bilingual in Spanish and English. She would like to become a plastic surgeon. Congratulations, Marcela!

The first prize winner was Brenda Ortiz. We met Brenda at the Awards Dinner and she proved to be in person as smart, witty and outgoing as she came across in her essay.

We would like to publish our words of congratulations so Brenda may keep them and share them with great pride.

Brenda's essay starts by saying, "Being bilingual is an honor and a blessing because it helps me be a part of the global community in multiple ways. It gives me an advantage over those who can speak only one language".  

You understand that being bilingual is a blessing, one that will give you many advantages as you become a member of our community.  You shared with us in your statement that your mother came to this country when you were five years old and she left you under your grandmother's care. You say that your grandmother taught you remarkable values: it is these values and your determination to succeed that will open the doors of opportunity for you.  Less than two years ago you came to this country and you have already achieved so much as you have embraced all the good things that have come your way.  We would like to be a part of your future by presenting you with this scholarship. We applaud you and are honored to help you begin the next journey to as you said, a better future.

To all of you, best of luck as you enter a whole new phase.