Home > 2018 CCAE State Award Winners

Excellence in Teaching

Nieves Ochoa

Bay Section


Nieves Ochoa has worked at Napa Valley Adult Education since 2008 doing a variety of jobs in the ESL Department. Due to her ability, knowledge and demeanor, Nieves has risen quickly through the ranks of the ESL Department- from Instructional Assistant, to ESL Instructor, to Department Lead Teacher. As a teacher and second language learner herself, she has a broad knowledge of her subject and a deep understanding of what is involved in language learning. Nieves is a natural leader and demonstrates superior teaching and organizational skills in all of her classes, which include multi-level offsite ESL classes, Intermediate Low ESL, as well as WTI (ESL Workplace Training classes). She uses differentiated teaching strategies that are engaging for her students at all levels. 

It is a pleasure to work with Nieves because of her patient and cheerful attitude. She always finds the best in people and is highly respected by all staff and teachers. As a teacher leader, Nieves is quick to praise and slow to criticize. She is conscientious about her work and the contacts she makes in the community build and increase rapport. She is a true team player and is committed to improving the educational experience for the staff and students at our school.

Nieves is not only a role model to her students, but also to her colleagues because of her professional demeanor, unflappable equanimity and deep respect for others. She is timely in all her work and unquestionably conscientious. She assists with professional development and is constantly seeking new methods to improve. Other teachers remark that Nieves is generous with her time and expertise. A major part of her job is helping off-site teachers address the challenges of working in a multi-level environment. 

Nieves is a role model to her students. She inspires them to go beyond their own has a wonderful way of motivating her students to reach beyond their current abilities and achieve measurable gains. During a recent visit to Nieves’ classroom, we found Nieves was working with higher level students in a multi-level offsite ESL class. They were organizing words in a pocket chart in practice writing questions and answers. With the assistance of an instructional assistant, lower level students were doing a teacher-generated information gap. Students used dictionaries and other resources as they flowed between independent and small group work, sharpening their language skills and developing as self-reliant learners. Nieves calmly circulated between groups and assisted students as they worked, provided support and made corrections, providing a mini lesson on a grammar point that required additional support. Nieves has a great attention to detail, planning for differentiated instruction, using mixed grouping, varying her instructional strategies, using humor and levity as she adapts lessons to serve all learners.