Lornalyn DeLeon poses for a photo in front of a classroom at George HW New Tech Odessa. DeLeon recently became a US citizen and took some of her students to a Texas Association of School Boards conference in Galveston to demonstrate their knowledge of neuroscience. (Ruth Campbell | Odessa-American)
George HW Bush New Tech Odessa Science Facilitator Lornalyn DeLeon has had a few firsts lately.
DeLeon was recently sworn in as a US citizen and took a group of her students to the Texas Association of School Boards’ governance camp in Galveston.
Originally from Cavite, Philippines, DeLeon’s hometown is near Manilla. She and her husband still have family in the Philippines. They moved to the US in 2008, first ending up in Shreveport, La. She taught middle school for about 10 years before moving to the Permian Basin.
DeLeon became a citizen on October 27, 2022 and was sworn in along with 300 other new U.S. citizens in El Paso.
“I was so excited. It was such a relief because of all those years, because I came here in 2008. I wasn’t allowed to become a citizen until 2022,” DeLeon said.
She started on a work visa and then became a permanent resident.
“It was a long process. … It was just like saying to Mr. Ramirez (the director of New Tech) that it’s like goosebumps when they started showing all the countries represented. It was like 54 and I was like, oh wow, like that’s all and then we got sworn in,” DeLeon said.
She added that her husband was sworn in at the same time. The couple have a daughter who is a junior at NTO.
DeLeon studied 100 questions from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, but they only asked her a fraction of them. “If you got six out of ten answers, you’re good,” she said.
In the Philippines, people generally thought the US was a great country and there were more job opportunities. DeLeon said if she were a teacher in the Philippines now, she wouldn’t make as much as she did in Odessa. Then there is the milestone of becoming a US citizen.
Getting her passport with the United States of America on it was another thrill.
“It’s like the world is yours. … It’s like being an American citizen gives you more options. You could travel to different countries,” she said.
Always interested in science, DeLeon initially wanted to be a doctor. But going to medical school in the Philippines is expensive, and it comes from a long line of teachers. She is now in her 22nd year in the profession.
“My mom is a teacher. My grandma is a teacher. Like we’re a family of teachers. I thought let me try, try teaching. I thought I’d only be here for five years and that would be it. But I loved it. … It’s like something new every day. You’re not idle. Everything is fast-paced and I really like that. Every day is different,” DeLeon said.
She graduated from a public high school in the Philippines and graduated from the University of the City of Manilla with a degree in biology.
DeLeon didn’t consider moving until her colleagues applied to move to the United States. A few years before she moved to America, there was an influx of teachers to Maryland. They gave her an idea of what was possible and so she found an agency in the Philippines. The personnel manager questioned her and the door stood open.
She loves new technologies.
“I think I’m blessed to be here because I feel supported here and I think other teachers feel the same way,” DeLeon said.
She recently took five neuroscience students to the TASB meeting in Galveston to share their experiences learning neuroscience in virtual reality. The focus this year was on the student voice, so many districts sent students and teachers. On March 3, the students presented
There aren’t very many districts or schools that offer neuroscience. This year she has 30 students in the program.
“A lot of curators from different school districts were excited to see it,” DeLeon said.
The program started in 2020 with Bernadette Barragan and DeLeon is continuing it. DeLeon had previously undergone training.
“Hopefully this program will spread because many students will benefit from it,” she added. “The neuroscience program that we have right now will open the doors for them, especially for students who want to go into medical and health sciences.”
Principal Gerardo Ramirez said DeLeon is a “rock star” teacher who brought her academic expertise to campus. She helps with the National Honor Society and helps improve science education.
“When it comes to state assessments, their children perform at a very high level. It has been a pleasure getting to know her over the past few years that she has been on our campus. What I really admire about her is that she’s always looking for things to help her improve her teaching, so this opportunity at TASB was an example of that,” Ramirez said. “She’s always willing to try different things that will benefit learners.”
Attending the TASB conference helped promote NTO, its project-based learning curriculum, the importance of creating a strong campus culture, and the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.
“[She’s]definitely one of our best and brightest. It really is her. It’s a pleasure to have her,” Ramirez said.