Fauquier ESL Teacher Goes the Extra Mile

"Every time I walk into Laura's classroom, I am greeted by smiling faces of engaged English-language learners," a colleague said of Laura Hoover, above, with students Cesar Martinez, 5, left, and Maricela Hernandez, 6. (By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)
By Arianne Aryanpur
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 19, 2007

Some days, long after students at M.M. Pierce Elementary School in Remington have left the building, teacher Laura Hoover makes a house call.

Hoover, who teaches English as a second language to 65 children in kindergarten through fifth grade, will sometimes meet parents at home if they can't make it to school during regular hours to discuss their child.

Devoting extra time to students and their families is worth it, Hoover said, if it means "being able to see the progress that the kids make and being able to be an advocate for a community that might not have someone to advocate for them."

That commitment earned Hoover, 29, this year's Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award for Fauquier County. The Washington Post award is given annually to extraordinary teachers in the area. (A story about Sue Ann Gleason, a first-grade teacher at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn and winner of this year's award for Loudoun County, appeared Feb. 25 in the Loudoun Extra.)

Hoover, a graduate of Fauquier County public schools, didn't always want to be a teacher.

"I went to college thinking I would be an athletic trainer," said Hoover, who played field hockey at Fauquier High School. After a year and a half of coursework at the University of Virginia, Hoover changed her career path.

"I realized Spanish was something I was very good at, so I decided to major in Spanish," she said.

Hoover earned a degree in Spanish and religious studies from U-Va. and spent a year working for a business in Northern Virginia.

"I quickly learned that wasn't my thing, the for-profit world," she said. So she joined Teach For America, the AmeriCorps program that places college graduates in low-income schools.

Hoover taught second-grade bilingual and ESL classes in Phoenix for two years and loved the experience so much she decided to continue with Teach For America for a third year. At the same time, she earned a master's degree in elementary education from Arizona State University.

In 2003, Hoover returned to Fauquier County as an ESL teacher at P.B. Smith Elementary School in Warrenton. A year later, county school officials asked that she start the ESL program at Pierce Elementary.

In letters recommending Hoover for the Agnes Meyer award, school administrators said the program at Pierce has flourished under her direction.

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