Aguirre moved from the Philippines to Palm Beach 13 years ago to teach in the county's Speakers of Other Languages program.
She told Sun Sentinel that her experience in moving to another country allowed her to relate and "speak the same 'language'" as her students, even if most of them had Spanish as their primary language.
“We share the same emotions and face the same challenges,” Aguirre told the Florida paper. “There is a so much in common between me and my students. They see themselves in me.”
The Filipina was also named the Florida Reading Association Teacher of the Year in 2016 and was a finalist for the national Dwyer Awards in 2015.
Aguirre was one of dozens of Filipinos recruited to fill a teacher shortage in Palm Beach County in the early 2000's. She planned to return home after three years but stayed after meeting her now-husband.
She earned her doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in 2014 and now teaches intensive reading for students with limited English skills at Palm Beach Central High.
Darren Edgecomb, Aguirre's principal, described her as a "phenomenal teacher" and a "passionate educator" who "absolutely loves kids."
Margie Mesa, one of her students, said Aguirre inspired her to continue her studies despite hardships at school or in life. — Rie Takumi/BM, GMA News