10:51 AM

TIME.com Recognizes Marie Moreno for Innovation in Educating Immigrant and Refugee Children

Marie Moreno, Ed.D '21, a 2022 Time.com Innovative TeacherOut of hundreds of applicants from educators around the country, TIME.com chose to feature 10 in their first-ever list of Innovative Teachers. University of St. Thomas-Houston alumna Marie Moreno, Ed.D ’21, stands out among the honorees for educating immigrant and refugee children.

Moreno Is Making a Difference

The TIME.com article “highlight[s] U.S. educators who are improving their field and making a difference for their students in a unique way.” Dr. Moreno, who remembers feeling speechless at being selected for the prestigious honor, is the founding principal of Las Americas Newcomer School in Houston, Texas. The fantastic place of learning serves immigrant and refugee children who come from 40 countries and speak more than 30 languages. Within that unimaginable diversity, Moreno created a remarkable one-year program to support the students in learning English and transitioning to American life.  Easier said than done, but she did it.

“I have poured my heart, sweat, blood and tears into my beloved school,” she said. “In that environment, we give the kids school supplies, clothing, mental health counseling, and a sprinkle of laughter to ensure they know they have finally made it to a safe place. And seeing students come back after attaining their bachelor’s, master’s, even doctorate degrees is breathtaking for me.”

Marie Moreno with refugee children in UgandaHer Advocacy Took Her to Uganda

While working on her UST Doctorate in Educational Leadership, which Moreno says changed her life,  the bold educator and advocate for social justice traveled to resettlement camps and an orphanage in Uganda, Africa. She came away with what she sought—a better understanding of the students in her school. But the visit also left her with a determined vision of more.

Moreno said, “Our country is known as the land of opportunity. Let’s make it a better place for all of us to learn and thrive together. Now, more than ever, it is time to create more places like Las Americas.”

A New Beginning to Expand Support

So, after 18 years at the helm of Las Americas, Dr. Moreno is leaving to put her expert skills and instincts to work as a consultant in the field she loves.

“Other states like Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona visited Las Americas and used my blueprints to open and replicate my newcomer school model. Now I have the time to visit and provide hands-on support to impact refugee education across the nation.”

Dr. Moreno can be reached at DrMoreno@NewcomerSuccessLLC.com.