40 under 40: María Luquín, Lake Tahoe Unified School District
Tahoe Chamber | August 7, 2018 | 40 Under 40
Tahoe native María Luquín said she finds inspiration in something Michelle Obama once said—once you’ve walked through the doorway of opportunity, don’t slam it shut behind you.
María lives that quote every day in her role with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. She serves as the coordinator for three programs that are vital to preparing students to succeed in college and in their careers. María said she’s proof that postsecondary education can change lives, and now she is committed to helping other students get that same opportunity.
Congratulations to María Luquín, the latest honoree of our 40 under 40 series!
Can you tell us a little about your responsibilities and accomplishments in your current position?
I am currently serving as Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), English Learner (EL) and Two-Way Bilingual Immersion (TWBI) Coordinator. My responsibilities include supporting the implementation of all three programs at all LTUSD schools. I spend the majority of my time working in schools with teachers and administrators to support and refine the day-to-day logistics of the programs.
I’m very excited that our TWBI program is going into its 12th year of implementation. Most of my work consists of supporting our secondary TWBI team, which is committed to ensuring all of our students have access to rigorous courses in Spanish through 12th grade to continue to build their biliteracy and prepare them for the challenges of living in a global society. I am also very excited that our English Learner team is continuing to grow and evolve to better serve the needs of our students. Thanks to the efforts of our dedicated teachers, many of our students are not only achieving English language proficiency but maintaining their first languages and earning California State Seals of Biliteracy upon high school graduation—not an easy task!
I am very lucky to serve as LTUSD’s AVID District Director. The AVID College Readiness System has been a cornerstone of South Tahoe Middle School and South Tahoe High School as they have both consistently earned National Demonstration School status since 2000 and 2001, respectively. Over the past year, AVID has grown to include all elementary schools. It is incredible to see kindergarteners be excited about note-taking and organizational skills, which are the pillars of a successful student at any level. I am very much looking forward to seeing the students’ skills progress through the years as I know that the foundations that are being built now will benefit them tremendously throughout their educational careers.
In a nutshell, my job is to support biliteracy and college and career readiness. It truly is a dream job!
What has been your favorite professional moment in the last year?
Last June, Lake Tahoe Unified School District sent a team of 63 teachers and administrators from all school to AVID Summer Institute, which is a record-breaking number. AVID Summer Institute training, along with continued implementation efforts throughout the year, will ensure that students have access to current, research-based instructional practices that will build their skills and prepare them for postsecondary endeavors.
Do you have a professional/life mantra that you live by?
Michelle Obama once said, “When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through the doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed”.
I am very lucky to have had and continue to have incredible mentors that provided me access to incredible educational, professional, and personal experiences. I aspire to provide similar experiences to others.
What was your first job?
I was an assistant to a real estate agent while in high school. My job mostly consisted of making flyers for available properties and cold calling potential sellers. It was an incredible experience to have at such an early age as I learned to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds. I realized for the first time just how important biliteracy was in the business world. I was the only biliterate in the office at the time and was able to attract clients who were not fluent in English. Several of those clients became first-time homeowners, which was a very rewarding experience.
Why choose Tahoe to make your home and career?
I returned home after college because I wanted to serve. I chose to teach at South Tahoe High School because I knew that the majority of my students had a similar background to my own. My goal was to help them see that postsecondary education is not only possible but accessible and transformative. I am proof that education changes lives. In my current role, I am lucky to be able to continue to advocate for increased educational opportunities for all students as well as promoting and supporting biliteracy, which is essential in our local, state, national, and global societies.
Are you active in any volunteer roles or community groups?
I currently serve on the Live Violence Free Board. As a former teacher, I saw first-hand the incredible support that LVF provided our students and community and am committed to supporting their mission.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I love to explore new places. One of the things I love most about Tahoe is that even though I have lived here most of my life, there always seems to be something new to experience. From hiking trails to exciting restaurants, I always find a way to enjoy free time with friends and family. I also love to read and travel as much as possible.
Where are your favorite South Shore stomping grounds?
Riva, Lake Tahoe Aleworx, Sidellis, Basecamp, Artemis, The Lake House, Lake Tahoe Pour House, Baldwin Beach, Round Hill Pines Resort, Jimmy’s, Brook’s, and Sonney’s.