Position: Kindergarten Bilingual Teacher
School: Nellie K. Parker School
School District: Hackensack Public Schools
City, State: Hackensack, NJ
Mercedes Abreu-Haines was nominated by an acquaintance who wishes to remain anonymous.
Ms. Abreu-Haines has been an educator for over 30 years. She is passionate about teaching and continues to make a huge impact on the lives of English language learners. Every year, students enter her classroom without knowing how to speak English, and she helps them transition by strengthening their oral language and vocabulary skills. Ms. Abreu-Haines provides a safe and fun learning atmosphere for all her students. She teaches them by providing fun activities such as music and dance. She also provides bright visuals so that students are constantly learning to read. Students love her energy. She offers hugs, praises and a smile to those students who are acclimating to a new environment, and she treats them all with respect. Parents and students see her in the hallways, stores and within the community and just want to hug her. She makes each one feel special and successful.
"Ms. Abreu-Haines provides parents with strategies and materials that are useful at home for their student. She takes time to explain what each individual child needs to succeed and makes herself available to all parents of English Language Learners," her nominator said. "She attends school events and assemblies, and translates important information so that parents are aware of school events. Many times, she translates notices so that parents are informed of special events that take place during school hours."
Ms. Abreu-Haines provides morning workshops for parents on topics such as homework, developing better study habits, how to make your child a better reader, and developing math skills. Parents feel comfortable asking her for advice and suggestions. She communicates and relates well to all parents because she speaks Spanish and is also a parent. She's not afraid to offer parents advice regarding parenthood.
Today, Ms. Abreu-Haines has taken her leadership, knowledge and experience to the collegiate level. She is a Bilingual kindergarten teacher by day and an adjunct professor by night, training teachers who are pursuing their Bilingual/ESL certification at a local university. Her knowledge, experience and mastery of Bilingual/Bicultural education is helping her make important contributions to the development of current and future teachers. She also loves to share teaching strategies with colleagues and is a constant learner herself. Her professor mentor sings her praises about how quickly she adjusted to her new faculty role. He also commented that her students, on the university level, are enjoying her class.
Much to her surprise, Ms. Abreu-Haines was given a Certificate of Commendation during Women in History Month for her accomplishments and commitment. She was honored with local women in the community who have contributed to noteworthy causes. She represented the field of education for her work over the years with the students in her school district.
"Needless to say, I feel that Ms. Abreu-Haines is certainly worthy of the LifeChanger of the Year award. Her lifelong dedication to not only English Language Learnersm, but all students, is commendable. She continues to perfect her teaching and leadership skills with every opportunity given. She is a born leader who loves to see children and adults succeed, not only in education, but in life," her nominator said.