Published Online: February 12, 1997

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A nine-year effort to revitalize a California high school was rewarded last week when Doris Alvarez was named the 1997 National Principal of the Year.

Ms. Alvarez came to San Diego's Hoover High School in 1987. Under her leadership the school has evolved from a traditional high school into a full-service oasis for students, most of whom are members of minority groups, as well as the community.

The school, located in a low-income neighborhood with high crime rates, is open nearly 24 hours a day, offering an on-site clinic that provides free medical and social services.

"This is an exciting place where the kids get involved," Ms. Alvarez said in an interview last week.

Her innovations, such as block scheduling to give students longer class periods, have helped the school offer a more personalized education. Ms. Alvarez said an alumni foundation is an integral part of the school's success.

As Principal of the Year, Ms. Alvarez received a $10,000 grant that she plans to pass on to her students, allowing them to create businesses in their community.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. sponsor the national program.

The winner is selected each year from the principals of the year of the 50 states, New York City, and the U.S. Department of Defense schools.

The National Association for Bilingual Education and Scholastic Inc. have named Ezekial Perez the 1997 Bilingual Teacher of the Year.

Mr. Perez, a teacher at Felix Tijerina Elementary School in Houston, will receive a $2,500 grant for professional development. The award recognizes classroom teachers who have distinguished themselves as leaders and have shown an ability to inspire students who have limited proficiency in English.

Mr. Perez, a bilingual educator for 16 years, seeks to teach his students how best to cultivate their individual talents, based on his philosophy that every child is gifted and talented.

In addition to the grant, Mr. Perez will receive a tuition scholarship from the Spanish Embassy to travel to Spain to study at the Summer Institute on Children's Literature in Spanish, and the Embassy of Mexico will award him an educational trip to that country.

--ADRIENNE D. COLESacoles@epe.org

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