Maria Luisa Portuondo was awarded the BC John A. Dinneen, SJ, Hispanic Alumni Community Service Award.
Ms. Portuondo is a Boston College graduate who received her masters’ degree in Special Education in 1973. Since then, Ms. Portuondo has been a tireless driver of school reform for bilingual students with disabilities in order to improve the life chances for a “better life”. One of very few Latina women with masters’ degrees back in the 1970s, she understood that without an education she couldn’t help bilingual students accomplish all they could! She also knew that the Latino community was growing and that children needed an educator who could understand what is was like to be a minority and an English language learner. She understood Latino families needed help in learning how to navigate the education system in the US and she knew she could help!
Maria Luisa has been a teacher, mentor, director, speaker, advocate, cultural advisor, volunteer, and consultant for bilingual children with special education needs and continues to tirelessly support this mission. She has held a variety of positions in our community and has made significant impact for the Latino community in every one of these positions. As a teacher she has impacted many students by helping them be prepared to be contributing members of the society, as teacher educator, she has trained teachers in many capacities to be able to be more culturally responsive to students from different backgrounds and languages. As a leader she has helped shape policy efforts that support the maintenance of bilingual students native language to support development of English by working for the MA Department of Education and disseminated knowledge to support this via conference presentations, research projects, and workshop trainings. Although now retired she continues to provide consultation service for parents teachers, schools, and professional organizations because she know people need to know how to serve bilingual children with special education needs and there are not enough people with her rich experience working with Latino children and their families right now.