Duenas is Mount Carmel School’s Teacher of the Year

Posted on Jan 28 2014

Mount Carmel bestowed its Teacher of the Year award yesterday on veteran 4th grade teacher Shirley Dueñas.

Dueñas, who has been an educator for the past 13 years, said the best thing about her job is “seeing students understand a subject and learn new material.”

She first started out as a second grade teacher three years ago and prior to that served as a teacher at San Vicente Elementary. Her father, who passed away in 2003 and was an educator himself, inspired her to pursue the path of becoming a teacher.

“I hope he is proud of me,” she said.

Dueñas shared that, although teaching wasn’t something she always wanted to do as a mother and a single parent, when she taught her first class 13 years ago, she fell in love with the students and instantly connected with the school system.

Fellow 4th grade teacher and 2013 Teacher of the Year Carmen Agulto worked with Dueñas at San Vicente several years ago and transferred to MCS with her. Since then, the two have been considered by many at the school as a “powerful teacher duo.”

“I congratulate her and I know she did a good job,” Agulto told Saipan Tribune.

One of her students, Richard Steele, echoed Agulto’s message. “She is really fun when she teaches. When I saw that she won the award I felt like jumping up on stage and hugging her.”

Teacher of the Year runner-up and high school science teacher Luz Baldazo expressed similar sentiments.

The Teacher of the Year, according to school president Galvin Deleon Guerrero, is selected by a panel of experienced educators from the Public School System who observe the candidates’ classes throughout the month. According to Guerrero, this year’s awardee won by one point on the judge’s score sheet.

Yesterday’s celebration was a part of MCS’ Catholic Schools Week, and yesterday’s theme was “Appreciating teachers, faculty, and staff.” Students also put together a clever skit that mimicked the teaching styles of the school’s faculty and staff and sang songs to honor their teachers.

The event also featured the presentation of the school’s inaugural teaching loyalty degree, which is awarded to individuals who have worked with Mount Carmel for over 12 years. Teachers Delfina Muna, Zita Sablan, Luz Baldazo and staff Mina Benevente and Julia Villafuerte were named official “alumknights” of MCS and received the degree presented by school officials.

Keynote speaker Velma Camacho Deleon Guerrero, a long-time educator herself, talked about the sacrifices she made as an educator in order to ensure that “no student gets left behind.”

Guerrero shared that her position as the Liberal Arts Program coordinator and acting department chair for Languages and Humanities at NMC played an integral role in broadening her passion for teaching since her first teaching position at MCS.

“The interaction I have with the students and watching them grow and have success is something that is priceless,” she said.

MCS president Deleon Guerrero thanked the teachers and staff for their continued work and support for the students and noted that “out of the 90 times Jesus is referred to in the Gospel he is called ‘teacher’ 60 times.”

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