On the final day of Hamilton's Exploring Words Summer Camp, Denise Lepe Perkins was presented with the 2021 Ohio TESOL Lifetime Achievement Award by Kathleen Murphy-Morales and a joint proclamation by Mayor Pat Moeller (City of Hamilton and City of Middletown, Mayor Nicole Condrey). Denise has been a powerful force and an advocate for Hispanic students and English Language Learners in Southwest Ohio for 43 years. Her teaching career began in 1978 in Middletown, where she taught Spanish at the junior high and high school, and later she served the district as one of the district’s ESL Coordinators. She also taught and performed Mexican Folkloric Dance and took groups of students to Dayton’s International Festival to perform. Denise officially retired in the Spring of 2013, but anyone that knows Denise knows that retirement is only a word to her. She continued as a scorekeeper for the Middies and worked for the Butler County ESC before coming to Hamilton to work as a Native Language Support Specialist in 2015. Throughout her career, Denise has dedicated herself to celebrating our future bilingual students and continually reaches out and looks out for them and their families. She has always done whatever it takes (during and after school hours) to help students and parents feel welcome and to facilitate communication between our EL families and the school. She has a true love for English Learners and has been an invaluable asset to our school families in Middletown and Hamilton. Denise is an inspiration to us all and we are eternally grateful for her service to our students and the surrounding community.