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USF honors Pioneer Elementary School ESL teacher

BOLINGBROOK – Pioneer Elementary School English as a second language teacher Rita Guzman has been named Alum of the Year by the University of St. Francis College of Education.

The honor is bestowed annually to a USF graduate who demonstrates strong service leadership both on the job and in the community.

Guzman, who has been with Valley View School District 365U since the 2002-03 school year, holds three different degrees from USF including a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Master’s degrees in both Educational Leadership and in Differentiated Instruction. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the Joliet-based higher education institution.

A former first-grade bilingual teacher at both Tibbott and Skoff elementary schools, Guzman came to Pioneer in 2010 as an ESL specialist. She is a member of the VVSD Parent Resource Network team and the VVSD Academic Committee, and has been at the forefront of VVSD Common Core State Standards curriculum development for ESL students.

At Pioneer, she is a member of the school’s Universal Leadership Team, a mentor for new teachers and one of the organizers of the multi-cultural Fair.

Guzman is one of only five teachers in Will County certified to work with both English language learners and special needs students.

Named United Way of Will County Volunteer of the Year in 2008 for working with families in the Joliet Diocese, she currently volunteers her time preparing meals for the homeless at the Daybreak Shelter and organizing special events for Will County’s Sunnyhill Nursing Home. 

“We try to help out in the low income areas of the Joliet community as much as possible,” Guzman said. “I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to go to school. I do whatever I possibly can to support children and families who may not have that opportunity.”

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