Eleonora Villegas-Reimers: Helping English Language Learners Succeed

November 07, 2011

Belmont Patch

Eleonora Villegas-ReimersBelmont Patch's feature, "Meet Your Neighbors," is just that - discovering more about fellow residents or people who work in town and make the community a nice place to live.

Who? Dr. Eleonora Villegas-Reimers

What? Winner of the Latino Excellence in Education award, Wheelock College professor, board member of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

Her story:

Ever since she was young, Eleonora Villegas-Reimers wanted to be a teacher.

"I knew I wanted to work with children and believed if I wanted to help them, I needed to reach them early in their lives," she told Belmont Patch.

Originally from Venezuela, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Universidad Catolica Andres Bello and then taught sociology and citizen education at the high-school level.

In 1983, Villegas-Reimers moved to the US to study at Harvard University where she earned a Master of Education and Doctor of Education degree from the Graduate School of Education.

Eventually, she said she realized she could help students more if she could influence teachers and began working in higher educational settings.

And she is taking her academic background to discover the reasons why the fastest growing group of students in Massachusetts is also the one with the largest achievement problem.

Of all the ethnic groups in the state, the number of Latino students in the public school systems is growing the most. And that may have something to do with why it is the group that currently has the most problems with academic achievement, she said.

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