National Council of Teachers of English Logo

2017 NCTE Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award Recipients

Eliza Braden (formerly Allen) is an assistant professor in Elementary Education in the Instruction and Teacher Education Department, College of Education, at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include critical language and literacy practices of culturally and linguistically diverse young children (i.e., African American and Latino/a children), family literacy, social justice and education, and digital literacy. She has published in journals such as Language Arts Journal of Michigan, English in Texas, Phi Delta Kappan, and Journal of Language and Literacy Education. Dr. Braden has presented at a host of state conferences such as Georgia TESOL and national conferences such as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Literacy Research Association (LRA), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Guadalupe Bueno was born in Caracas, Venezuela, but has lived in the United States from the age of ten. At first, adjusting to a new life and a new language was not easy for her, but 21 years later she is an English teacher in Queens, New York,   currently teaching seventh grade at PS23Q Lifeline Center for Child Development. PS23Q is a family of schools that provides services to students with special needs, ranging from cerebral palsy to emotional disturbances. Students are mainly African American and Latino, grades K–12. Guadalupe feels that the Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award program and NCTE can help her to find ways to make her students see that they are able to complete their ambitions regardless of their “disabilities.” She is a strong advocate for community-based projects and looks forward to gaining insight into community-based projects that can make her students aware of the many abilities they possess.

José Luis Cano lives in Brownsville, Texas, where he teaches writing courses at a community college. Texas A&M University and Texas State University awarded him his degrees in English. His pedagogical and research interests align as they pertain to learning the most effective methods of teaching writing to Latinos/as and other ethnic-minority students. In the future, he wants to continue his education to refine these research and pedagogical endeavors. When not working, José Luis likes to exercise, watch the San Antonio Spurs, and read. Currently, his favorite writer is Dagoberto Gilb.

Anthony Celaya was born and raised in Arizona. This year he will be celebrating four years of marriage to his high school sweetheart, Deanna. Anthony graduated from Arizona State University in 2013 and began teaching at Dobson High School, his alma mater, the following fall. Anthony has taught various English courses, ranging from those for English language learners to AP language and composition. As a teacher, Anthony’s goals are to give his students access to an equitable and empowering education by teaching social justice, using young adult literature, and emphasizing student interests in the curriculum. In 2015, Anthony finished his master’s degree and in 2016 began working on his Ph.D. in English education. This fall Anthony will teach at Arizona State University, where he will finish his Ph.D. and work with preservice teachers. Outside of school, Anthony spends as much time as he can with family and friends, enjoying good food and traveling. In his personal time, Anthony enjoys reading, writing poetry and stories, and playing video games.

Sirrita Darby has taught middle school in the heart of Detroit for the past two years and has a passion for the work. Detroit is her city, and she wanted to teach in order to change it for the better. She feels that there are too many policymakers making vast decisions that directly affect our nation’s children and teachers who have never stepped foot in a classroom as either a teacher or a public school student and thus haven’t really experienced the effects of their decisions first hand. Sirrita aspires toward more opportunities and equity for students and community members and a sense of purpose and impact for herself. She believes that inner-city youth are an untapped resource of young people whose meager surroundings have instilled a sense of ambition which needs to be properly directed, and she is  looking forward to doing just that.

Shirley Alvarez Fung is a certified ESL teacher with a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) endorsement.  For the past two years, she has been an ESL teacher for the Fuller-Meadow and Howe-Manning public schools in Middleton, Massachusetts.     

After several years as a software programmer, she dedicated herself as a full-time mother, gradually becoming more involved in her children’s school community.  Fueled by her desire to help students in an urban setting, she volunteered in a school in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where she was offered a position as a tutor.  This experience ignited her passion to become the most effective teacher she could be.

She pursued Ortin Gillingham training and completed Level I to help students with literacy, and followed this with a master’s degree in elementary teaching.  Later, while working toward TESOL credentials through Salem State University’s Project SAEL, she worked for one year at the Nathaniel Bowditch School in Salem, Massachusetts.  Her educational background includes an MEd in education from Merrimack College and a B.A. in economics from the University of Southern California.

As an ESL educator, she recognizes there are many challenges involved in helping her students achieve academic success.  But she is passionate in this role and energized by the thought that ours is a diverse society, one that seeks to educate any and all students who show up at our school’s door.

Document and Site Resources

Share This On:

Page Tools:


Copyright © 1998-2019 National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved in all media.

1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096 Phone: 217-328-3870 or 877-369-6283

Looking for information? Browse our FAQs, tour our sitemap and store sitemap, or contact NCTE

Read our Privacy Policy Statement and Links Policy. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use

Visit us on:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linked In
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Document URL

Document Owner

Organization Name

NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts