Austin ISD educator selected as Bilingual Teacher of the Year


By Eduardo Villa

Austin ISD has another Teacher of the Year among its numbers. 

Luz Alvarez-Sims, Travis Heights Elementary fourth grade teacher, was named the 2021 Bilingual Education Teacher of the Year by the Texas Association for Bilingual Education.

The associations selected Alvarez-Sims to represent the bilingual teachers of Texas because of “her dedication to the needs of emergent bilingual students and her outstanding leadership.”

“I am beyond honored and humbled to represent our resilient bilingual community as the 2021 TABE Bilingual Teacher of the Year,” Alvarez-Sims said. “Serving as a bilingual educator has given me the opportunity to create equitable and welcoming environments for our comunidad.”

As the fourth-grade bilingual teacher at Travis Heights Elementary, Alvarez-Sims teaches students in English and Spanish and focuses on the importance of cultural diversity. Alvarez-Sims, a 14-year veteran, began by teaching bilingual classes in middle school for six years then moved to teach fourth-grade, which is where she’s stayed since.

“I am proud to work alongside dedicated maestros bilingües to implement a curriculum that is culturally sustainable and that applies the most effective strategies for learning two languages,” she said. “I hope to continue building relationships with bilingual teachers and families to cultivate the future bilingual generation.”

Alvarez-Sims was recognized virtually at the Texas Association of Bilingual Educators Teacher of the Year Awards ceremony on Saturday. She’s now in the running for the National Association for Bilingual Education Teacher of the Year competition.

“Ms. Alvarez-Sims emanates her passion for teaching bilingual students every day through her advocacy and leadership on her campus,” said Travis Heights Elementary Principal Michelle Amezquita-Navarro. “It is evident Mrs. Alvarez-Sims has a drive and focus for bilingualism and biliteracy. She applies her social justice lenses through her planning and instruction every day.”

More than 28% of Austin ISD students are considered emergent bilingual. Nearly 15,000 are in elementary schools, 3,600 are at middle schools and almost 3,500 are in high school. More than 90 languages are spoken throughout the district. 

Austin ISD offers multilingual programs that promote academic excellence by addressing the linguistic, cognitive and affective needs of multilingual learners.