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Maria Luisa Wilson-Portuondo MA'73, a long-time teacher, mentor, volunteer and advocate for bilingual children with special education needs, is the 2010 John Dinneen, SJ, Hispanic Alumni Community Service Award recipient.

Long-time Teacher, Mentor and Volunteer Honored with Fr. Dinneen Award

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By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor
Published: March 18, 2010
Maria Luisa Wilson-Portuondo MA'73, a long-time teacher, mentor, volunteer and advocate for bilingual children with special education needs, is the 2010 John Dinneen, SJ, Hispanic Alumni Community Service Award recipient.

Wilson-Portuondo received the award at the Mar. 13 Archbishop Oscar Romero Scholarship Award Banquet.

Announcing the award, the Boston College Archbishop Oscar Romero Scholarship Committee praised Wilson-Portuondo as a "tireless driver of school reform for bilingual students with disabilities," citing her involvement in a number of educational and policy areas.

"Because of this experience, I feel reenergized knowing that here, at Boston College, my alma mater, there’s a vibrant community that values equity, justice and human dignity," said Wilson-Portuondo at the banquet last week.

"My parents told me, my inheritance was my education, nobody could ever take away from me. They also taught me that this was a gift that I could freely share with others," she said.

Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Puerto Rico, Wilson-Portuondo began her professional career in the Framingham Public Schools, where she implemented a bilingual resource room for their transitional bilingual program. Her other positions have included cultural advisor for the WGBH English as a Second Language Project, assistant director of the Massachusetts Bilingual Multicultural Special Education Project, and assistant director of the New England Equity Assistance Center.

She now works for Decision Analytics Inc., leading professional development programs for teachers with a focus on ESL and special education.

In addition helping many students "prepare to be contributing members of society," according to the Romero Committee, Wilson-Portuondo "has trained teachers in many capacities to be able to be more culturally responsive to the need of students from different backgrounds and languages.

"As a leader she has helped shape policy efforts that support the maintenance of bilingual students' native language and support the development of English language skills."