J.L. Long dual-language teacher Susan Moreno won the Milken Educator Award. (Photo from Morgan Meyer.)

J.L. Long’s Susan Moreno teaches two languages, but she was momentarily speechless Thursday at a surprise assembly in which she was presented with the Milken Educator Award.

The prestigious national prize, which honors top teachers across the country, comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.

Susan Moreno understands the value of being bilingual and multicultural in an interconnected world,” said Jane Foley, Milken Educator Awards senior vice president. “What’s more, the gift of language is a precursor to all higher learning. In any language, we are proud to welcome her to the National Milken Educator Network.”

In Moreno’s dual-language classroom, seventh- and eighth-graders visit Hispanic countries through music, poetry and cuisine without ever leaving Texas. Students build model houses, write short stories, perform original skits and produce videos.

The University of Arkansas graduate founded Long’s dual language program and writes curriculum for the district to help other teachers implement the program at their schools.

“The district’s teachers and students are incredibly proud of the accomplishments of this outstanding educator,” Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said. “Susan Moreno exemplifies the grit and devotion to students demonstrated by all great teachers and is most deserving of this award.”

Milken educators are selected for what they have achieved and for what they will accomplish. Recipients cannot apply and do not know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, and the Milken Family Foundation chooses the winners.

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