Lively Elementary School 5th grade teacher Juanita Guana-Ramirez was recently named the 2019-2020 Elementary Teacher of Excellence by the North Texas Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (NTCTELA).

Ramirez knew from a young age she wanted to be a teacher, but it was her high school assistant principals who opened her eyes to the power and potential that education offers every student.

“[They] were the ones who taught me that students’ mistakes and past do not define them or their future, and they should always be given opportunities for redemption,” says Ramirez.

She went on to the University of North Texas at Dallas to study bilingual education and the University of Texas Permian Basin where she earned a master’s degree also in bilingual education.

At Lively, she sees literary arts impact the lives of her students in powerful ways. Her students come from diverse backgrounds, and books are a way for them to connect and learn about themselves and others.

To spur on her students’ love for reading, Ramirez started a book-sponsorship network for her 28 students. Each month, “Book Angels” from across the nation send brand new scholastic books to her students.

Ramirez will be honored at the 2020-2021 NTCTELA conference, an annual gathering for language arts and reading teachers, slated for early June.