Filipino educators who made history in the USA


Filipino educators who made history in the United States

2023: Lady Aileen Orsal of CSU: Harvard’s first-ever Filipino Language Instructor

Lady Aileen Orsal, a former teacher from Cavite State University, became Harvard University’s first Filipino language instructor in 2023.

Harvard acknowledges the importance of Filipino as the fourth most spoken language in the United States, and Orsal’s appointment is a significant recognition of the Filipino language and culture.

Orsal’s journey began as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant in 2018. She earned a Ph.D. in Philippine Studies at DLSU with a Master’s at NIU and Journalism at Cavite States University and was an alumnus of Amadeo National High School.


Lady Aileen Orsal
Lady Aileen Orsal in NIU, Illinois, in 2023. (Photo via Facebook)

2022:  Ismela “Ella” Nava has the “Heart of Education”

Filipina teacher Ma. Ismela “Ella” Nava received the Heart of Education award for her exceptional work in special education at Paradise Elementary School, Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nava is an exchange teacher for special education who was one of the top 20 awardees selected from over 700 finalists.

2022: Eleuterio Timbol wins Empire State New York Governor’s Award

Dr. Eleuterio “Ely” Timbol, Jr. is a proud Filipino math teacher at the High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety.

In 2022, he was awarded the Governor’s Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award in New York, along with 54 other top educators.

Ely left the Philippines when he was 19 and has been teaching for 24 years since then. Born in Romblon, his family relocated to Binan, where he pursued his education.

Timbol finished his Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Saint Michael’s College of Laguna (SMCL) and Ph.D. from Cavite State University.


FilAm teacher Dr. Ely Timbol, Jr. at Platero Elementary School in 2022. (Photo: Elli F Teembol/Facebook)

2022: Ethelyn Tumalad named Oregon’s Teacher of the Year

Ethelyn Tumalad, a Filipino-American educator, was named Oregon’s Teacher of the Year by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) in 2022.

The prestigious has been awarded to 62 educators since 1955. This is the first time that a Filipino American has been recognized in Oregon.

Ethelyn’s teaching excellence and her ability to connect empathically with her students reflect the Filipino value of “Pakikipagkapwa-tao” (fellowship), which is important in an era when more students suffer from depression.

Tumalad was born in the Philippines and migrated to the USA when she was only five years old.


Ethelyn Tumalad was named Oregon’s 2022 Teacher of the Year. (Photo:

2021: John Carlo Tulinao is Shell Urban Science Educator Awardee

Pinoy John Carlo Tulinao, a first-grade science teacher at Amberlea Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, has been recognized nationally for his innovative teaching methods.

John received the prestigious Shell Urban Science Educator Development Award from the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) in 2021.

“Mr T,” as his students call him, enriches his classes by using musical instruments from diverse cultures as teaching tools. Tulinao uses the violin, guitar, harp, cello, flute, sax, drums, and tongatong to teach STEAM concepts.

Tulinao is a UP graduate who taught at the University of Rizal. He is also a STEAM Music Academy Teacher at Pendergast Elementary School in Phoenix and is currently finishing his doctorate at the University of Miami. 


2019: Dr. Nel Venzon was awarded the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science

FilAm Dr. Nel Venzon was among the four Hawaii public school teachers recently awarded the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Venzon is an Advanced Placement (AP) Biology teacher in Hawaii with 14 years of expert experience in this field. He engages students using scientific research while making it fun at the same time.

Students praised Dr. Venzon for his effective teaching style, making complex subjects like AP Biology simple and enjoyable.

Ne Venzon got his Master of Education (MEdT) at the College of Education, Manoa. He currently teaches PA and AP Biology at Mililani High School and is an adjunct professor at Wayland Baptist University.

In 2023, Hawaii welcomed 80 teachers from the Philippines as the Filipino curriculum got the go signal from the Hawaii legislature.

Dr. Nel Venzon, with three other awardees of PAEMST for their teaching excellence in math and science.


2018: Ronie L. Mataquel Blackboard Award Honoree

Ronie L. Mataquel is a K12 teacher at John Bowne High School who teaches Geometry and Algebra.

In 2018, Mataquel was honored as one of New York’s Blackboard Honorees for his efforts in preparing students for the  City University of New York (CUNY) placement exam.

His unique style and discipline resulted in achieving the highest pass rate among the remedial classes.

Mataquel was an alumni of UP Los Baños. He also studied at the University of Antique, Philippine Christian University, and National Teachers College.

He immigrated to the United States in 2022 and is currently a Mathematics Adjunct Lecturer at Brooklyn College, Lander College, and CUNY in New York.


New York’s finest: Ronie L. Mataquel was included among the city’s most outstanding teachers in 2018.

2014 and 2015: Levlyn Marquez Pruehr was awarded “State Teacher of the Year” and California Teacher of the Year.

In 2014, a native from Cavite became the first Filipino to win the prestigious title of State Teacher of the Year and, subsequently, California Teachers of the Year (CATOY) in 2015.

Lovelyn specializes in EL (English Language). She has served the Los Angeles Unified School District for 17 years, holding various roles, including English Learner Designee, English Department Chair, WASC Coordinator, and New Teacher Mentor.

Currently, she is the Assistant Principal who previously served as a TK-12 Instructional Coordinator for ELA in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Marquez-Prueher has become the pride and joy of the Dodson faculty, especially for another Filipina, Vice Principal Agnes Pitlik.


Outstanding teacher of California: Levlyn Marquez Pruehr was awarded “State Teacher of the Year” and California Teacher of the Year.

Distinguished Filipino educators in the USA in the past

  1. Dr. Jose B. Cruz, Jr. made groundbreaking contributions to the fields of mathematics and engineering, gaining recognition in the 1960s and 1970s. His pioneering work in control theory and systems engineering has had a profound impact on various technological applications.
  2. Dr. Aurora Villamayor is a prominent figure in the field of education, with notable contributions spanning from the 1970s onward. She has been actively involved in teacher training programs in the USA, holding teaching positions at universities and assuming leadership roles in education.
  3. Dr. Isidro C. S. Pangilinan, also known as “MVP” in the Philippines, has achieved recognition for his success in both business and education. From the 1990s onwards, he has been associated with institutions like Ateneo de Manila University and has supported educational initiatives, leaving a significant impact.
  4. Dr. Emmanuel B. Cabral, specializing in pediatrics and medical education, has earned respect as a medical practitioner and educator. His contributions to pediatric medicine and medical education in the USA have been notable, with achievements dating back to the 1980s.
  5. Dr. Lorna K. Lubin is known for her extensive work in education, particularly teacher education and educational leadership. Throughout her career, which began in the 1980s, she has made substantial contributions to the field of education in the USA, leaving a lasting legacy in academia.


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