Fifth grader Beatriz Lopez has been selected as El Verano Elementary School’s Student of the Year. Beatriz’s teacher describes her “as possessing the greatest desire to learn that I have ever seen.” Beatriz is an avid reader who consumes books daily and soaks up all that she can from everything she reads. She has finished more than 50 books so far this school year.

Her classmates are often unaware of her aptitude, said her teacher, because of her humbleness and because she helps others shine. Beatriz has a positive attitude about learning and does not shy away from advice from her peers or teachers.

She loves to help out at school, often assisting other teachers in their classrooms during her lunch time or recess.

Teachers frequently comment that it’s like having another teacher in the room. “She is the student that teachers cross their fingers for before seeing their new class roster for the year,” said her teacher. “She is such a positive role model for our school and Altimira Middle School will be very happy to receive such an amazing student.”

Student of the Year Maribel Monroy-Saldivar, also in the fifth grade, is the kind of student whose work ethic makes school appear effortless.

In part, it is her determination to always put her best effort forward. During countless recesses, Maribel asks if it would be OK to, “just keep working on my morning work?”

She is also a self-directed learner, according to her teachers. She is the student who is constantly seeking out a new challenge and finding a solution. It is this constant seeking of a new challenge that has led her to two years of GATE (gifted education) participation.

Upon first meeting Maribel, what often stands out is her calm demeanor and soft-spoken voice. In watching her interact with students, she exudes a compassion and empathy for others. From helping classmates with a particularly challenging math problem, to working with her second-grade class buddy, she exemplifies patience and kindheartedness. With five years of soccer experience, and several years of dancing with Ballet Folklorico, she has learned how to do things with elegance and flair. Her love for learning and positive attitude ensures that she will shine in anything that she puts her mind to, say the teachers and staff at El Verano.

This article is part of a series profiling the two Students of the Year named by each school in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District during the 2015-16 school year.