Four employees of the Moorpark Unified School District recently received scholarships to help them achieve their aspirations of educating bilingual students.

The Chuy Suarez Future Bilingual Teacher Scholarship was awarded to the quartet of current classified employees who are studying to be teachers and have shown their commitment to students who are learning English.

“This is one of the ways in Moorpark that we’re growing our own,” said Marilyn Green, coordinator of special projects for the district. “When you try to hire someone and train them to be a bilingual teacher, you could wait a long time. (The scholarship) is for those already on staff who have those aspirations.”

This year’s recipients are Tanya Garcia, who is studying at California State University, Northridge, to be a speech and language teacher; Jose Ireta, director of Project Pride in Moorpark, who is studying to become a bilingual counselor; Karla Covarrubias, an instructional assistant at Moorpark High, who is studying to be a bilingual teacher; and Vanessa Gerritsen, also studying to be a bilingual teacher.

Each recipient received a $200 scholarship during a special ceremony last week.

“All of them are really incredible,” Green said.

The four individuals are among the few who can offer a much-needed service, said school board member David Pollock.

Bilingual education “is a valuable skill and constantly in demand,” Pollock said. “It’s one of the areas that’s the most difficult to recruit in. We want to encourage those within our own ranks who want to pursue this as a career.”

The scholarship, offered in Moorpark for many years, was named after Chuy Suarez, a former bilingual teacher at the city’s high school and at Flory School.

“Chuy was a really special human being and a great role model for all of us,” Green said. “He had the extra commitment it takes. When you have to have more than just the qualification to be a teacher and working with two languages, there is an extra degree of commitment that it takes.”

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