Year Honored: 1996Claremont Graduate University
At the time of the Award, Eleanor Vargas was:Teacher
Murchison Street Elementary School
Los Angeles, CA
Eleanor Vargas trains future educators at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont. Previously, Vargas was a resource specialist teacher who worked with learning disabled students at Murchison Street School in Los Angeles. As a teacher-trainer and researcher with Project O.L.E. (Optimum Learning Environment), she developed programs that addressed Latinos in special education. The Project's findings had a significant influence on education in California, and throughout the country. "The program is primarily a constructive literacy program that uses literature and life experience to teach students higher-level thinking skills," said Vargas. Vargas successfully enabled students to achieve academic goals and to leave special education in "record numbers." Vargas also implemented several literacy clubs for special education students, and began a lending library in her classroom to address the shortage of books and libraries in her community.