Lynmara Colón sees amazing potential in English Learners
Posted on 07/20/2018
Picture of Lynmara Colón, director of English Learner Programs and Services“My personal philosophy about education goes back to providing students and their families with the experience they deserve. Equity is something I advocate,” said Lynmara Colón, the new director of English Learner Programs and Services for Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS).

Colón began her career as a social worker who observed students referred for evaluations. It was in this job she discovered her passion was teaching.

“As I sat in classrooms and observed the dynamics of teaching, I kept thinking about the lack of engagement in some settings. I knew I could take my skills to the classroom and decided to become a teacher,” said Colón. “Serving students who came from a different background came naturally because I could relate,” she said.

A native of Puerto Rico, Colón attended college at age 15 and moved to the U.S. as a young military bride at 19. Her husband served in Iraq while in the Army. Colón was an English learner who pushed herself to read to learn the academic language of English. She faced many roadblocks, she said, but always had strong family support. She comes from a family of educators. Her mother was a high school teacher and her grandmother was a school custodian.

“This is not only about passion, it is about purpose,” Colón said. “You see people like me struggle to reach a dream. How powerful is that? If I can inspire people, I can give them hope, no matter what language they speak,” she said.

Colón brings to her new role the perspective of a teacher, assistant principal, and principal—positions she has held since joining PWCS in 2006 as a teacher at Featherstone Elementary School. She was named assistant principal at Featherstone in 2011 and served there until becoming principal of Mary Williams Elementary School in 2014. She led Mary Williams Elementary until assuming her new position July 1.

She now heads the office that provides comprehensive registration services to English Learners and immigrant children, and translation and interpretation services. Of the more than 90,000 students enrolled in PWCS, 26 percent receive services as English learners. These students represent 124 countries and 149 languages. 

Colón approaches her job as director with enthusiasm; her conversation is spiced with the words, “amazing, magical, potential, and intentional.” She describes herself as a leader with a Disney mentality; if you dream it you can do it.

“My hope is that no matter where students are coming from, they have access to that magical moment,” said Colón.

“Being a classroom teacher was an amazing experience," Colón said. "I wanted to become an administrator to have a greater impact and support teachers in a different capacity. I have not stopped teaching. As a principal, I loved covering classes and planning with the staff. As a director, I hope to remain in touch with teachers, supporting the work they are doing in schools.”

Colón is an avid reader in her free time and is currently reading "The First 90 Days" by Michael Watkins.

“My reading diet is not very balanced,” she said. “I am very heavy on nonfiction now, reading educational journals. I want to train my brain, so that I am familiar with researchers in the field.”

Colón holds two master’s degrees, in curriculum and instruction, and in educational leadership. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in education through Old Dominion University. She is the recipient of many awards, has served as a panelist and featured speaker at national educational conferences, and has authored numerous articles for journals and education news outlets. She was named in 2017 by the National School Boards Association among “20 [Educational Leaders] to Watch” and is a grant reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education.

Colón intends to build on what the Office of English Learner Programs and Services has already established, engage stakeholders, and foster an understanding that “English Learners have amazing potential.”