Lorena Cervantes, a creative movement teacher at Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences, received the Victoria D. de Sanchez Northern Virginia Hispanic Teacher of the Year Award for 2017.
The annual award, sponsored by the Hispanic Youth Foundation of Northern Virginia and Marymount University, honors an exemplary Hispanic classroom teacher from one of the 12 school systems in Northern Virginia who strives to improve the lives of children and his or her community through education.
A Costa Rican native, Cervantes became involved in dance at six years old when she joined a traveling dance company. After high school, Cervantes taught, danced and directed at the School of Dance at Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. She was awarded a mini Fulbright scholarship to George Washington University, and later received a full scholarship to earn a master’s degree in dance in the U.S.
Cervantes, who joined the staff at Bailey’s ten years ago, reinforces language acquisition with physical gestures, keeping students engaged, energized, and capable of retaining concepts. Cervantes was the first teacher to add dance integration to the existing arts integration program at Bailey’s, and Cervantes regularly invites parents to see what and how their children are learning. She also founded the first Elementary Dance Company for Fairfax County students, a free after-school program for students in grades 2-5 to learn dance technique and choreographed movement. Cervantes volunteers her time with the school’s Head Start program, Early Literacy Program, and a teen group of Bailey’s alumni.