Diana Juarez – LAUP’s Early Educator of the Year!

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PUENTE Learning Center is excited to announce that our very own Diana Juarez has been named as one of LAUP’s Early Educator of the Year recipients in 2017. This prestigious award makes her one of five exceptional early education teachers in Los Angeles County receiving the Dr. Celia Ayala Early Educator Award. After 29 years of service as a teacher here at PUENTE, Diana is well-known for her commitment to teaching excellence and for her love for the Boyle Heights community.

We know that education is the most critical “puente” we can provide for our children and families. We are so very excited to be able to recognize Diana Juarez for her dedication to this vitally important work.



DIANA JUAREZ’s 29-year history of service as a teacher in PUENTE Learning Center’s Early Education Program exemplifies passion for early education, a dedication to excellence, and commitment to our community. It isn’t rare to be at a restaurant or store in the neighborhood and have a young man or woman come up to Ms. Juarez and give her a hug: “do you remember me, Ms Juarez?” or an older person tell her: “thank you for what you did for my children”. She is beloved by the hundreds of students whose lives she has touched. Her entire life is dedicated to teaching and the children and families – she is often the last one to leave the building, even after being encouraged to go home.

Born and raised in Boyle Heights, walking distance from PUENTE Learning Center, DIANA JUAREZ has committed her life to improving outcomes for children through quality early education programs. She describes her career as one that reflects her own personal connection to Boyle Heights and her belief that the community she loves deserves great schools that provide solid foundations for its youngest learners.

As a young child, Ms. Juarez remembers her experience of participating in LAUSD’s mandatory desegregation busing program that took her out of her community to attend schools in the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. Ms. Juarez realized as a young child that there was a perception about schools in her own neighborhood as being sub-standard – a realization that inspired her passion to ensure that deserving children in her own community would have the opportunity to attend quality schools with caring educators. Following the end of the busing program, Ms. Juarez graduated from Roosevelt High School and went on to study English as UCLA and Child Development at Cal State Los Angeles.

Following in the footsteps of her mother who began as an educator in PUENTE’s Preschool Program, Diana started serving as a Teacher’s Assistant in high school and continued to teach throughout her higher education, eventually joining PUENTE’s teaching staff full-time. Still, after 29 years of service, Ms. Juarez comes to school excited each day. She has been instrumental in helping to build PUENTE’s Early Education Program, which includes a preschool readiness program as well as parenting classes to help parents understand how they can become partners to their children’s education. What she finds most meaningful about her role is her ability to work within the community where she grew up and provide the kind of caring early education Boyle Heights’ families deserve. She has been known to say that if she wasn’t teaching at PUENTE, she would be teaching at another school within Boyle Heights.

As the second longest serving member of PUENTE’s staff (second only to her mother, Ms. Ortiz who has also taught at PUENTE in the early education program since 1985), Ms. Juarez is the best example of how one educator can truly impact an entire community. PUENTE Learning Center is proud to honor Ms. Diana Juarez, recipient of the Dr. Celia C. Ayala Early Educator of the Year Award.